HC Deb 03 April 1951 vol 486 cc18-20
31 and 44. MajorTufton Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he is aware that boots issued to the 27th and 29th Brigades in Korea have proved inadequate and been the cause of complaint and suffering; on what date he first heard of these complaints; when it was decided to issue a new type of boot; in what way the present boots have been found unsuitable and inferior to those used by the Americans; and on what date all British troops in the fighting line will be issued with the new type of boot;

(2) whether he is aware that in spite of recent assurances to the contrary some units among British troops fighting in Korea have still not got adequate supplies of good quality boots, waterproof capes and battle-dress trousers; that as a result of this morale has already suffered; and if he will now take steps to put these matters right.

Mr. Strachey

The Finnish pattern boot has not proved satisfactory for marching troops in all of the weather conditions encountered in Korea mainly because the upper leather has cracked and the stitching has broken. Neither the United States nor any other country fighting in Korea has provided a completely satisfactory boot for the alternating wet and dry cold of the climate. Complaints regarding the Finnish pattern boots were received in the War Office in February and in the same month, following interdepartmental consultations, the Ministry of Supply were asked to produce an improved type of boot for wet and dry cold. Meanwhile, orders had already been given for the production of a special boot which can be worn with heavy duffel socks for dry cold weather, and sufficient numbers of both types of boots will be produced to equip the whole British force in Korea for next winter if this should prove necessary.

I am not aware of any inadequacy in either the quality or the supply of ponchos or battledress trousers, ample stocks of which have been in Korea and Japan for months. There have, however, been considerable difficulties in effecting distribution locally. I should be glad to investigate any specific complaints the hon. and gallant Member may have.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Would it not be better to provide with proper equipment these men fighting for freedom in Korea rather than to provide thousands of overcoats and so-called battle dress for the Civil Defence people in this country?

36. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Secretary of State for War if the troops in Korea are getting fresh meat and vegetables; and if he will state the weight of fresh meat provided per man per week.

Mr. Strachey

At present the British troops in Korea are provided from British sources with either compo rations or preserved field service rations, neither of which contains fresh meat or vegetables. Arrangements have, however, been made for fresh meat and vegetables, when available, to be drawn from United States Army sources in place of tinned meat and vegetables. The weekly scale of issue per man in such cases is 98 oz. of fresh meat and 56 oz. of fresh vegetables (excluding potatoes, of which fresh supplies are not obtainable).

62. Major Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for War how long the 27th and 29th Brigades have now been on active service in Korea; and what arrangements he is making for these formations to be relieved.

Mr. Strachey

The 27th Infantry Brigade arrived in Korea in August, 1950. It has distinguished itself in action and spent seven months almost continuously in the fighting line. Plans are now in hand for its relief. 29th Infantry Brigade Group arrived in Korea in November, 1950, and has completed four months distinguished service. No arrangements for its relief have yet been made, but the matter is being kept under review.