HC Deb 21 July 1942 vol 381 cc1383-4
9. Mr. Pritt

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make it clear whether non-commissioned officers and men, when ordered by their officers to blanco their equipment or polish their brass or the soles of their boots in circumstances involving a breach of Army Council Instructions, are to disobey the Army Council Instructions or to disobey their officers; and what steps he will take to punish officers who issue such orders?

Sir J. Grigg

A soldier must obey the orders given him by his superior officers. If an officer gives an order which is contrary to an Army Council Instruction, it is the duty of his superior commander to take such disciplinary action as the circumstances of the case require. There is no instruction which forbids the blancoing of webbing.

Sir Robert Young

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Instruction about these things is not being obeyed at all?

Sir J. Grigg

I am not aware of that.

Mr. Pritt

Why is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of it, when I write two or three letters a week to him on the subject, setting out the details? Does he read his letters?

Sir J. Grigg

Yes; and I answer the letters. They require a good deal of investigation, and some of the hon. and learned Member's statements are not substantiated.

Mr. Pritt

That means that most of those statements are correct.

Sir Percy Harris

Is it not a fact that the Instruction is not being carried out, particularly, I believe, in the Household Cavalry? Will the right hon. Gentleman try to make them understand that it is a waste of energy to spend so much time in blancoing?

Major Pethcrick

Does not a smartly-turned-out regiment fight very much better than one which is not smartly turned out?

Mr. Pritt

How many times has the right hon. Gentleman heard the words: "Britain blancoes while Russia bleeds"?