HC Deb 16 December 1941 vol 376 cc1798-9
13. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the young men in the lowest age group, now to be called up, are to be segregated for purpose of training in young soldiers' battalions, or whether they are to join infantry training centres?

Captain Margesson

The young men in question will be sent to training establishments of the various arms. The intention is that they will there join young soldier companies, and after their preliminary training will be posted to young soldier battalions. For the first year of their service, therefore, they will be segregated from men in the higher age groups.

Mr. Bellenger

Will the Minister give more consideration to the training pro- gramme of these young men who in the past have been segregated to guard vulnerable points and other such boring duties? Will he not take into account the fact that these young men are very keen and wish to have proper training?

Captain Margesson

Yes, Sir, I am very well aware of that.

Major Owen

Will the Minister take into account the danger of giving these young soldiers far too heavy work, as was the case in the last war? Will he look into this matter very carefully, as a very large number of boys of 18 years of age who served in the last war suffered from valvular disease of the heart as a result of their heavy training?

Captain Margesson

Most certainly that matter will be watched, but we have had some experience since the last war in the training of young soldiers.