HL Deb 14 August 1940 vol 117 c238

My Lords, I beg to ask the second question standing in my name.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether friendly aliens and refugees were employed as Pioneers by the War Office in France and whether their services have given satisfaction to the military authorities.]


My Lords, five companies of the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps consisting of friendly aliens were I employed with the British Expeditionary I Force in France, and did most excellent work. They are now employed in the United Kingdom and are giving satisfaction.


My Lords, arising out of the reply may I ask my noble friend whether, in the latest stage of operations in France, these men were equipped with rifles, and whether it is true that after they returned to this country they were again disarmed?


It is true they were equipped with rifles when they were actually at the seat of war engaged in operations in the Lowlands and in France, as were all Pioneers, but I think they were only lightly armed. I was not aware that on their return to this country they had no arms, but I can quite imagine that would be so, because it was vital to rearm the whole of the combatant divisions as speedily as possible in view of the menace to this country which existed, and the Pioneers since their return have been working principally on defence measures.

House adjourned at five minutes before six o'clock.