§ 32. Captain Field
asked the Secretary of State for War the conditions governing United Kingdom leave from S.E.A.C.; and whether there is any delay, at present, in allowing this leave.
§ Mr. Bellenger
A soldier in South East Asia is allowed one period of 30 days' leave during his overseas tour. We cannot, however, allot everyone a vacancy, owing to shortage of manpower and shipping, and at present the proportion of vacancies is about one in three and a half; this is an improvement on the figure of one in five which obtained until recently. In the allotment of vacancies, due consideration is given to length of overseas service and campaign service. To be eligible, men must be able to serve for at least four months overseas on return from leave, before becoming due for release or repatriation to this country.
§ 33. Captain Field
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the statements appearing on orders of units in 172 S.E.A.C. to the effect that too much mail is sent home by men serving in the command and unless cuts are made restrictions will have to be made; and whether such statements are made with his authority.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I am aware that an order was issued by the Commander-in-Chief South East Asia Land Forces, to be repeated in unit orders, stressing the importance of using light weight stationery to reduce the weight of mail carried by air, consequent upon reductions in the air services available. A warning was given that if material reductions were not effected by these measures, the compulsory use of air letter cards or restrictions in the numbers of letters written each week might become necessary. The order applied only to letters normally carried by air and other classes of mail were not affected. I am satisfied that the order was a perfectly reasonable one.