HC Deb 14 June 1944 vol 400 cc1970-1
37. Colonel Greenwell

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if young men under 18 years of age are still sent to serve in fighting ships of the Royal Navy employed operationally either as ratings or as midshipmen.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Captain Pilkington)

Yes, Sir.

Colonel Greenwell

Does it mean that the conditions for naval service are equivalent to conditions of service in the Army for young men?

Captain Pilkington

No, Sir, the circumstances are not the same because the conditions are different.

Mr. Bellenger

We recognise the gallant and heroic efforts of these youths, but they do go into action, and is it wise to keep up a tradition of the Navy that is not followed in the other two Services in total war?

Captain Pilkingon

The circumstances are different in the Navy and the two things are not comparable. In actual practice we ask parents' consent when boys up to the age of 17 are involved.

Colonel Greenwell

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that certain of these young men have given their lives for their country before their eighteenth birthday?

Captain Pilkington

Not a very large number of 'boys are involved in this question; I think it is probably 1,500 I know that some of them have given their lives for their country.