HC Deb 20 March 1917 vol 92 cc33-5
73 and 79. Captain BENNETT-GOLDNEY

asked the Under-Secretary for War (1) whether, on the night of or the morning following the recent air raid in Kent and elsewhere on Friday, 16th March, any Zeppelin approached within a radius of 10 miles of a certain aerodrome the name of which has been privately communicated to him; whether the aerodrome referred to is included in the number of Home defence stations which have been officially mentioned as being provided with means, aerial and other, of attacking Zeppelins by night; if so, whether he can explain to the House how it was that during the recent raid above mentioned no aeroplanes were ordered up from this particular aerodrome, although it was brilliantly illuminated during the raid so as to be conspicuous from above for a distance of many miles; if he can give any information as to how many fully trained pilots there were on duty available at this aerodrome station on the night in question; if he will say whether these pilots, as well as those on duty at the Home defence stations in the neighbourhood of London and elsewhere, had all been trained to make use of the methods of attacking Zeppelins which have proved to be successful; if not, if he can give an assurance that observers who had been so trained were available at these different stations on the night in question; whether there was a sufficiency of suitable aeroplanes and pilots in actual readiness to take up such trained observers at the stations concerned; and (2) whether the Home defence squadrons in the neighbourhood of London and elsewhere, including East Kent, are now after two and a half years of menace up to their official strength both in pilots and equipment; whether these squadrons are fully equipped with thoroughly efficient and adequately armed aeroplanes; and whether the pilots in such squadrons given the responsibility of flying at night have been fully trained in the successful methods now adopted for the destruction of Zeppelins?


The distribution of aircraft between the various theatres of war and for Home defence is the subject of constant review, and is determined in accordance with the military situation. It is not considered to be in the public interest to give any information as to this distribution. Only pilots trained to night-flying are employed on that duty, and all available nighty flying pilots are always ready for duty, and are sent up as the situation demands.


Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the complete scheme suggested by his predecessor is in working order?


indicated assent.