§ 76. Mr. Driberg
asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether he has considered the letter addressed to him on 22nd September by the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) concerning conditions at the R.A.F. Station, Vizagapatam; and whether he can now make a statement on the points raised therein, particularly in regard to health and to the length of time that airmen are required to serve at this station?
§ Mr. Strachey
Yes, Sir. With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate a detailed reply to the points he has raised in the Official Report.
§ Mr. Driberg
Can my hon. Friend say now whether he is going to reduce the time that men will have to serve at this very unhealthy station?
§ Mr. Strachey
Yes, Sir. As a matter of fact the station is to be closed down by the end of the year, except for a very small staging post.
Following is the statement:
Vizagapatam was used as an assembly point for a recent operation and at the time of the hon. Member's visit was still suffering from the added discomfort which the needs of that operation entailed. Since then numbers at the station have returned to normal and it has been possible to move airmen into a new section of the camp where the domestic accommodation is fitted with electric lighting and fans, although the severe shortage of fans has made it impossible to provide them also in sleeping quarters. The station will be completely vacated by the end of this year, except for a small staging post unit for which adequate arrangements are being made.
The climate of Vizagapatam is trying and humidity is high; hence there is a high incidence of skin disease. In view of these conditions, a limited tour of duty is being instituted at this station. Of the present strength only about 100 men have been there more than six months, and only eight men have been there over 18 months.
All possible measures have been taken to accelerate the delivery of first-class mail to units in India; some delays in distribution are inevitable in monsoon weather.
The catering at Vizagapatam is considered to be as good as that at R.A.F. units in India generally. Every effort continues to be made to improve the standard and variety of diet in this theatre as a whole.