HC Deb 14 March 1923 vol 161 cc1608-9

In India, I speak in the presence of my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for India, we shall see in the future developments upon the same lines. Let me tell the House, in passing, in connection with the air in India, that all the evidence goes to show that the value of air operations is being better and better realised. The deficiencies in equipment which caused such great concern last summer are being made good. The Air Officer Commanding in India has now direct access to the Viceroy, and the headquarters of the Air Force have been moved to a point in close proximity to the headquarters of the Army. All these points go to show that in India the value of these air developments is beginning to be felt.

There is only one further field in connection with foreign operations to which I should like to draw the attention of hon. Members, and that is the operations that have taken place in the Dardanelles. There, again, the House will be glad to hear that the air units have acquitted themselves most creditably. We have the impartial testimony of General Haring-ton as to their achievements. The air units there have succeeded, among other things, in showing that, at any rate on active service, soldiers, sailors and airmen can all work harmoniously together. Let me give the House two examples.

Number 4 Squadron is a squadron allotted for co-operation with the Army. Yet 12 of its machines were erected and flown off the deck of an aircraft carrier within 53 hours of its arrival in the Dardanelles. Later on it was found expedient, with the consent of the Naval Commander-in-Chief, to detach some of the seaplanes and ship aeroplanes from their carrier ships and to place them in a shore aerodrome for co-operation with the infantry and artillery. Just as the Army unit was able to undertake naval work. so the Naval unit was able to work from land under the orders of the General Officer Commanding. As soon as peace is made with Turkey, I shall be able to give the House many more interesting details showing the success of the air arm during the Near East crisis.