HC Deb 02 July 1919 vol 117 cc953-5
41. Mr. G. TERRELL

asked the Secretary of State for War whether all soldiers serving in India are being retained, irrespective of service, for the Army of Occupation; whether this is causing discontent amongst the 1914 and 1915 men, who have received no home leave since they landed in India; and whether he will make arrangements for the men who are entitled to demobilisation to be sent home at once?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Churchill)

Demobilisation in India has been temporarily suspended owing to the situation in that country. Men eligible for demobilisation are not retained for the Army of Occupation, and demobilisation will be reopened as soon as the situation permits. Reliefs for the garrison of India are being dispatched, and it is hoped on their arrival to be able to release some of the urgent cases. Every possible step is being taken to release those eligible as soon us it is possible to do so.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he considers men who enlisted in 1911 as of the most worthy class?


I do, indeed.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these men are in India now?


Yes, I regret to say it is so.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving priority to volunteers to go out in relief of these men in India, as a matter of policy?


Twenty battalions are now in process of dispatch to India, special arrangements having been made to safeguard them in their transit through the Red Sea in the hot weather. They are starting in a week, and the ships when they get there will bring back men from India, unless the situation in India is too critical for them to be withdrawn. The first men to come home will be those from Mesopotamia who were on their way back from Mesopotamia and were stopped in India when trouble began.


Are these battalions composed of nothing but volunteers?



Major Sir B. FALLE

Coming through the Red Sea in July?


The military situation has rendered it necessary that that should be done, but special arrangements have been made in regard to the troops' accommodation on the troopships, and other medical precautions have been taken which will reduce the hardships to a minimum.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether the officers and men of the Wiltshire Regiment at present serving in India have been informed at various times that the regiment would come home in the autumn; and whether he will give a definite assurance that this date will be adhered to?


I regret I can add nothing to the reply given on the 25th February last to a question asked by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor, to the effect that if all goes well it should be possible to complete all reliefs during the course of next autumn. I have no doubt that the unit is aware of this reply.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Wiltshire Regiment has been particularly promised release, and will he make special arrangements that this regiment, which has done so well in the War, should be sent home?


No, Sir. I do not think we ought to pick out one regiment. We must try to bring all these men back.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can state when men with dispersal certificates, some of whom left England in September and October, 1914, and have had no home leave, who have been detained in India on their way home from Mesopotamia, will be brought home; and whether care will be taken that ample accommodation shall be provided on board ship for men returning through the Red Sea at this season of the year?


Demobilisation has been temporarily suspended in India owing to the existing situation in that country. I regret that no definite statement regarding demobilisaion in India can be made at present, but it will be reopened as soon as circumstances permit.