HC Deb 03 April 1919 vol 114 cc1404-8W

asked the Secretary of State for War whether Sapper A. Pethurst, No. 73234, 38th Motor Air Line Section, Constantinople, has been in the Near East for nearly three years and two months; whether he is aware that Sapper Pethurst has had no leave during that period; and whether he is aware that the men of this section have no prospect of demobilisation and have just been sent from Salonika to Constantinople instead of being released?


H Sapper Pethurst's service is as stated, he will be eligible for demobilisation unless he is serving under pre-war conditions of service and has not completed his term of Colour service. Even if this section has been transferred to Constantinople, it must not be concluded that there is no prospect of the men being demobilised. Such as are eligible for demobilisation will be demobilised as soon as circumstances permit.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will take steps to obtain the prompt demobilisation of Gunner C. Rose, No. 177663, 545th Siege Battery, who is forty-one years of age; and if he will draw the attention of commanding officers to the fact that men over thirty-seven and those who joined in 1914 and 1915 have a right to be released if not absolutely required for the work of demobilisation, and thus save trouble to the War Office and Members of this House?


If Gunner Rose's age is as stated he will no doubt be demobilised in due course. Officers commanding units are in possession of full instructions regulating the demobilisation of personnel under their command.

Lieutenant-Colonel ARTHUR MURRAY

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Private Patrick Harrow, No. 243513, D Company, 9th Highland Light Infantry, British Expeditionary Force, offered himself for service soon after the outbreak of war, but was rejected at first on the grounds of ill-health; that he again offered himself in 1915 and was accepted, but was not called up until the beginnng of 1916; that since that date he has served in Egypt and in France; that, previous to joining the Army, Private Harrow was in business in Stonehaven with a partner; that, during Private Harrow's absence on service, his partner, a man beyond military age, has done his best to carry on the business, but with the result that he has overworked himself and is frequently laid aside by sickness; that, as a consequence, the business is suffering, and that Private Harrow's prospects, if not demobilised, of resuming work with a reasonable amount of support will be jeopardised; that these facts were set forth in a letter to Private Harrow's commanding officer in France, after the usual steps had been taken through the Employment Exchange to secure his demobilisation; that Private Harrow's commanding officer, according to Private Harrow, asked the latter to procure Army Form Z56; that, on application to the Employment Exchange in Aberdeen for Army Form Z56, Private Harrow's partner was informed that this form must be obtained direct from the War Office; that, on applying to the War Office, a letter was received stating that in cases where guarantees of employment, duly certified by the local advisory committee, or applications on Civil Form ED 406, approved by the Ministry of Labour, have been received, the soldier concerned will be registered as a contract or slip man and will, provided he is otherwise eligible for dispersal under the terms of Army Order 14, dated 29th January, 1919, be granted priority of release as the exigencies of the Service permit, and that officers and men should therefore be advised to inquire of their commanding officers as to their eligibility for release under the above Army Order; and whether, in view of all these circumstances and having regard to the fact that Private Harrow had already approached his commanding officer, who suggested, according to Private Harrow, that if Form Z56 were obtained and filled up the matter would be further considered, he can see his way to make inquiry with a view to the early release of this soldier on compassionate grounds?


As Private Harrow did not join the Colours before the 1st of January, 1916, he is not eligible for demobilisation, unless he falls within certain exceptions specified in Army Order 55 of 1919. Army Form Z 56, referred to in the question, is issued only by the War Office in respect of

  1. (a) Men who were certified by the Ministry of Labour and registered by the War Office for special release before the 1st of February, 1919.
  2. (b) Cases for release on extreme compassionate grounds.
This man is not registered by the War Office for special release, and the grounds put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend do not appear sufficient to warrant his demobilisation on compassionate grounds.

Lieutenant-Colonel A. MURRAY

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, under date 17th February, 1919, the Board of Agriculture for Scotland informed Mr. William Simpson that the Board had made application for the early demobilisation of his son, Private Richard Simpson, No. 24625, A Company, 4th Gordon Highlanders, as a pivotal man; and whether, having regard to the fact that this soldier has not yet been demobilised, he can see his way to make inquiry with a view to his early release?


Inquiries will be made, and I will inform my hon. and gallant Friend of the result as early as possible.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will inquire into the delay that has occurred in the demobilisation of Second-Lieutenant K. S. Mills, of the 509th (London) Field Company; whether the demobilisation of this officer, who is of the student class, was agreed to by his commanding officer last month; whether he is now surplus to the establishment of his unit; and when can his release be expected?


I am not aware of what action has been taken by Second-Lieutenant Mills commanding officer. There is no trace of any application having been received by the War Office concerning this officer. If his services are not required he will no doubt be demobilised as soon as circumstances permit.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether Private Nathaniel Miller, No. 6683, A Company, 4th Platoon, 2nd Cameron Highlanders, Tiflis, Georgia, Russia, and of 179, Firhill Road, Glasgow, who joined Kitchener's Army in November, 1914, and was sent to France and a few months later was invalided home and thereafter to Salonika for two years when he was wounded and returned home, and again was sent to Salonika and transferred to his present regiment and to Tiflis, is eligible for demobilisation; and whether his demobilisation will be ordered?


If the date Private Miller joined the Colours is as stated he will be eligible for demobilisation unless he is serving under pre-war conditions of service and has not completed his term of Colour service. If he is eligible he will no doubt be demobilised in due course. Due consideration is given to men of long service, but this case does not appear to call for special treatment.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider the release from the Army of Private George Simpson, No. 100,894, Royal Army Medical Corps, 28th Field Ambulance, 9th Division, British Expeditionary Force, France, as this man joined the Army in August, 1915?


It is not clear from the information given by my hon. Friend whether Private Simpson merely attested or whether he joined the Colours for continuous service in August, 1915. If, in fact, he joined the Colours for continuous service in August, 1915, he will be eligible for demobilisation and will, no doubt, be demobilised in due course, but I am not aware of any reason why he should be accorded special treatment.


asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of the fact that the executive officer of the Board of Agriculture in Lerwick asked the local committee to name the three most urgent cases for demobilisation of the parish of Wall, Shetland, and that Private James Williamson was placed at the head of the three, the other two were released and, although Private Williamson's case was the most urgent, he has been transferred to No. 452; Agricultural School, Aberdeen, and is now at work there where there is no scarcity of labour, although his services are urgently demanded for the cultivation of his own croft and the support of his family?


If my hon. Friend will inform me of Private Williamson's regimental number and regiment, and will furnish full particulars of the grounds on which his demobilisation is applied for, inquiries will be made.


asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been called to the case of Private Reginald Ashton, No. 136347, Royal Army Medical Corps, at present on leave from 25th Stationary Hospital, British Expeditionary Force, France; whether Private Ashton joined the Northumberland Fusiliers on 8th January, 1915, went to France the same year, was wounded on the Somme 1st July, 1916, and again wounded in 1917; whether his second wound made him unfit for general service, and he was compulsorily transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps; and whether, in view of these circumstances, Private? Ashton cannot be demobilised before 25th March, when his leave expires, in order that he may at once obtain employment, and thus help his old parents, whose only other son will be kept in the Army of Occupation?


If the facts are as stated in the question, this soldier is eligible for demobilisation, but under the provisions of Army Order 55 he is liable, if temporarily required for the military machinery of demobilisation, to be retained in the Army till he can be replaced or his services dispensed with. If Private Ashton's parents wish to apply for his release to be accelerated on extreme compassionate grounds they should have such application verified by a responsible person, and forward it to the Secretary, War Office, Mob. 10, Bridgewater House, Little St. James's Street, S.W., 1, for consideration.