§ 68. Mr. BENNETT
asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the number of members of the Territorials in India who have been on active service since the year 1914; if he is aware of the dissatisfaction which has been aroused in this country by the detention in India of demobilised men who were on their way home from Mesopotamia, a dissatisfaction that has been aggravated by unfounded reports in the Press that these men had volunteered for further service; and if he can give an assurance that, in the absence of unexpected trouble, the men of the Territorial Forces who joined thus early in the War shall be released in time to be at home before Christmas, 1919?
The approximate numbers of Territorials in India who have been on active service since 1914 are 8,000. Owing to the situation in that country, all men arriving there for demobilisation have been detained. Individual cases of dissatisfaction have been reported, and are probably due to the temporary suspension of demobilisation. Regiments of post-war garrison are now being sent to India to relieve the troops retained there, and, as I 29 have already stated, these men from Mesopotamia will be the first troops to leave India. I would refer my hon. Friend to the Memorandum published on the 17th July, in which I stated that it is expected that the Regular troops who are to form the permanent garrison will all be dispatched by the end of this year.
Sir J. D. REES
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these men strenuously deny that they volunteered, and that is at the root of the dissatisfaction?
The question is aggravated by unfounded reports in the Press that these men have volunteered for service, but the War Office cannot be responsible for unfounded reports in the Press.
I think the hon. Member has misinterpreted this question, which deals with the question of troops who are detained in India. They are first on the list for return, owing to the fact that they have been in Mesopotamia.
Yes. As nearly as possible they will commence returning at the very moment the hot weather is over, and they will all be brought home from India before the ordinary demobilisation is proceeded with in that country. That ought, with good fortune, to be before the end of the year.