HC Deb 29 March 1944 vol 398 cc1417-8
22. Colonel Greenwell

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, in the recent list of awards to officers for gallant and distinguished conduct in conection with the sinking of the battle cruiser "Scharnhorst," 27 of such awards were made to officers of the R.N., while officers of the R.N.R. and R.N.V.R. were only awarded three in all, including one to a non-combatant officer; and if, to avoid wrong inferences being drawn by the public, he will take steps to ensure that recommendations for honours in future are made on a basis more in keeping with the relative numbers of officers of the various branches of the service.

The First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. A. V. Alexander)

Recommendations for awards to officers are based on the quality of their services and are made in the first instance by commanding officers. I cannot agree that any other system would result in a just recognition of gallant and distinguished conduct.

Colonel Greenwell

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that the clear implication of his answer is that the quality of service and gallantry of Regular officers is nine times that of non-Regulars; and as these recommendations are made by Regular officers will he see that non-Regular officers get a little better recognition?

Mr. Alexander

I must say that on the records during the war such an interpretation would be quite unfair. There are many operations in which the only awards gained are by R.N.R. or R.N.V.R. officers. It happens in this particular kind of action that naval officers are in greater numerical strength than the others, but over 900 recommendations for distinguished conduct have been made and awarded to R.N.R. and R.N.V.R. officers.

Commander Agnew

Is it not a fact that in the case of the light coastal forces, nearly the whole of the awards were given to R.N.R. officers because it is they who primarily take part?

Mr. Alexander

Yes, Sir.

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