HC Deb 19 February 1919 vol 112 cc920-3
23. Lieutenant-Colonel BUCKLEY

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he is taking to expedite the grant- ing of leave to members of the Salonika and Egyptian Expeditionary Forces, in view of the fact, that in many cases members of those forces have had no home leave for as much as three or four years?

Captain GUEST

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answers given on Monday and Thursday last to questions on this subject. To these replies I would add that since the Armistice over 700 officers and nearly 9,000 other ranks at Salonika have been granted leave to the United Kingdom in addition to those coming home for demobilisation, etc.

Lieutenant-Colonel BUCKLEY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the grave dissatisfaction in those areas?

29. Captain Sir B. STANIER

asked whether the War Council will consider if the case of the ¼th King's Shropshire Light Infantry could hive some recognition for the work they did in putting down the two rebellions at Rangoon and Singapore, as this was outside the order of 22nd November, 1918, granting the Mons star which other units received during the same period of the War?

Captain GUEST

The rebellions at Rangoon and Singapore were local disturbances, and, in these circumstances, I am afraid I cannot adopt my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the general headquarters in India have acknowledged the excellent work done by the battalion, and that no officer on leave has received any recognition?


Will the hon. Gentleman make representations to the India Office that these men may receive Indian Service Medals?

Captain GUEST

I will convey that suggestion.

30. Mr. HURD

asked what steps are now possible to carry out the promise given by the late Lord Kitchener, through Major-General Donald, on 24th September, 1914, when he was asking the Wessex Division to go to the East, namely, that by going to India they would not be the losers, that they would share all the honours of the War, and might regard it as a guarantee that the Wessex Division would be brought back home before the end of the War so that the men might resume their employment or get fresh employment before the great rush took place from the Colours when the War was over?

31. Mr. HURD

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, with few exceptions, neither officers nor men of the ¼th Somerset Light Infantry, who were sent to Mesopotamia in February, 1916, have had any home leave since October, 1914, whereas men with shorter service on the Western front have had frequent leaves, and many have now been demobilised; and what steps, consistent with the public interest, he can now take to alleviate the sense of hardship which this inequality of treatment has created among the men and in the Somerset community?

Captain GUEST

My right hon. Friend proposes to make a full statement on this subject at an early date.


Could we have some indication as to when that will be, as there is a very great deal of dissatisfaction?

Captain GUEST

I hope next week.


asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of the fact that the 4th Battalion Devonshire Regiment have been abroad since the beginning of the War, and in view of the fact that they have had no home leave, he can state when they are likely to be brought home?

41. Mr. GREER

asked the Secretary of State for War whether there are any Somerset troops who have not had military leave from Eastern theatres of war since the commencement of hostilities; and, if so, whether he will arrange for immediate facilities to be afforded such troops for home leave?

Captain GUEST

It is no doubt the case that circumstances have unavoidably prevented leave to the United Kingdom being granted to some men in the far Eastern theatres of War since the commencement of hostilities. All possible measures will be taken to grant leave on a generous scale to such men as, are to be retained in the armies of occupation. The provision of reliefs and limitations of transport must, however, be taken into account in this connection. As I stated on Monday and Thursday last, all men who enlisted before the 1st January, 1916, are being demobilised as rapidly as possible in accordance with the new scheme (subject only to certain exceptions which are set out in the scheme). Troops in distant theatres of War have equal chances of demobilisation with troops in more proximate theatres or with troops at home, subject to the limitations imposed by shipping and the length of the journey home.

39. Captain FOXCROFT

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the 2/4th Somersets who volunteered and sailed for India in December, 1914, and were mobilised, with first line transport, accompanied by war preparation by land and sea, and garrisoned Port Blair, Andaman Island, under war conditions, are eligible for the 1915 ribbon?

Captain GUEST

No Sir. The "1914–1915"Star is not awarded to anyone other than those who served on the establishment of a unit in a theatre of war as defined in Appendix A of Army Order 20 of 1919. The Andaman Islands are not a "theatre of war."

40. Captain FOXCROFT

asked the Secretary of State for War whether Territorial battalions who went to India in 1914 and have many of them been in bad stations, and been away from England ever since, although not in an actual theatre of war, will receive any special recognition for these overseas services?

Captain GUEST

A comprehensive statement embodying the conditions of award of all medals to be sanctioned in recognition of services during the present War will shortly be published. The services of the units referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend have not been overlooked.