HC Deb 05 August 1919 vol 119 cc155-7
17. Lieut.-Colonel RAW

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider the desirability of awarding the General Service Medal to all those nurses and Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses who were engaged in nursing soldiers and sailors in home hospitals?


As already stated, the question of an award in recognition of services rendered at home during the War is under consideration. I must add this word of warning in order not to encourage false hopes. Every medal which is given to people who did not take part in the fighting detracts from the distinction enjoyed by those who have earned their medals through taking part in the fighting.


Does that include the men working on the guns for the barrage in connection with the air raids?


Up to the present, the only decision, taken by the Government is that the War Medal is to be given to those who embarked from this country to proceed to the theatre of war. When you come to consider the question of services rendered at home, quite another issue is raised and one which must be very carefully considered if justice is to be done.


Will some medal be given to those people who took part in such operations at home?


That is not settled yet, and I hope the House will think first of all of the soldier who went through the actual fighting.


Will the right hon. Gentleman, at any rate, consider some concession to those men whom he and his predecessors compulsorily retained in this country in order to train them and who would otherwise have gone and desired to go all the time, and asked to go all the time, to the front?


Of course, there are numbers of hard cases. If a medal for home service is to be given, it must be considered entirely separate from the War Medal to those who went out to fight in the War. Whether it is practicable to give a medal for home service or not is not yet decided, because the forms of service are very varied and the difficulties of appreciating them are so varied also.


Does the right hon. Gentleman include in those the services of men engaged in connection with the rebellion in Ireland?


Up to the present time we are confining the War Medal to those who left this country to proceed to the theatre of war against the enemy. I do not regard the services which took place in Ireland as coming within that definition, though certainly a number of men lost their lives.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

If there is a separate medal for home service, will the right hon. Gentleman see that the ribbon is a different one from the other?


I take a strong view on this subject. I am in entire agreement with the purport of the question just asked by my hon. and gallant Friend.