HC Deb 05 August 1919 vol 119 cc201-3W
Viscount WOLMER

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that there has recently been a serious outbreak of cholera among the troops of the 6th Indian Brigade at Ali Masjid, on the North-West Frontier, and that in the brigade about 400 cases and over 100 deaths have occurred; that the medical personnel attached to the brigade was not up to the establishment strength and was quite inadequate to deal with the outbreak; that there was a breakdown in the medical arrangements; that insufficient anti-cholera vaccine was available; and that the supply of saline tabloids was inadequate; and whether he will cause an inquiry to be made into the matter?


An outbreak of cholera in the Khyber Pass has been reported, but the number of cases in the 6th Indian Brigade was not stated. As regards the remainder of the Noble Lord's question, I have telegraphed for information.

Colonel YATE

asked the Secretary of State for India what arrangements have been made for the health and comfort of the troops on the North-West Frontier of India; and what action is being taken in regard to the allegations recently published as to defects in hospital management and supplies?


I have received the following telegraphic report from India:

  1. "1.Food, etc. —Two essentials at this time of year are ice and mineral waters. Ice machines are working at the following places: Rawal Pindi, Nowshera, Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Dardoni, Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Quetta. Further machines are under erection as follow: Two at Landi Kotal, one additionally at Kohat and one at Thal. Ice is forwarded daily from the nearest factory to station, at present without machines, e.g., up the Khyber Pass. As regards soda-water machines, twenty-two are already working on the frontier and six more are on their way to the frontier. The total daily output of these machines will be approximately 90,000 bottles. This output is in addition to that of local factories. Each machine is being sent up complete with cylinders and bottles for one month's consumption, and a reserve of three months has been arranged for. Mineral waters are issued to all officers and men in hospital. The seals of rations for British and Indian troops is much superior to any previously granted for campaigns in India. That for British includes the following daily issues: 3 ozs. bacon, 10ozs. potatoes, 6ozs, of onions, 8ozs. other fresh vegetables, 3ozs. jam, 2ozs. of condensed milk and 2ozs. of tinned or dried fruit, 3ozs. of oatmeal, and one extra ounce of condensed milk, besides rice, curry powder and lime juice, are issued three times a week. Cigarettes or tobacco or cigars are issued weekly, with an allowance of sweets as a substitute for non-smokers. Under the new scale for Indian troops the meat ration has been doubled and a daily issue of fresh vegetables, condensed milk, as well as weekly issues of cigarettes provided.
  2. 2.Hospitals and Hospital Comforts. —Orders have been issued to all generals in command that medical officers are to ask for whatever they deem necessary for the comfort of the sick and wounded in their charge and that their demands are to be met at once. Additional hospitals for 4,000 British and 8,000 Indian troops have been established in specially fitted barracks in proximity to the frontier, and electric lighting and fans where none a ready exist are being supplied to the former. Convalescent depots for officers and soldiers have in addition been formed mainly in the Murree Hills. Special arrangements have been made for the supply of fresh milk to the sick in hospital and cows for this purpose have been placed so far at the front as Dakka, Bannu and Tank. Scale of equipment of Indian General Hospitals has been reviewed and arrangements for providing additional equipment are in progress.
  3. 3.Canteens. —Arrangemens have been made for the establishment of field force canteens for British and Indian troops in such places on the Frontier as General Officer Commanding Forces may select and the necessary personnel and stores have been dispatched.
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  5. 4.Officers' Mestes, etc. —Special messes have been formed at the following places for the use of individual officers passing through Jamrud, Kohat, Bannu, Kalabagh, Mari, Indus, Tank, Darya Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Quetta, Rawal Pindi and Peshawar. Others are about to be established at Kacha, Garhi, Ali Musjid, Landi Kotal and Thal.
  6. 5.Rest Camps, etc —Rest camps for British and Indian troops en route to the front have been organised at Ambala, Lahore, Rawal Pindi, Nowshera, Peshawar and Quetta. These messes and rest camps have been inspected by General Officers Commanding and special officers detailed from General Headquarters. Their reports indicate satisfactory working. In addition to the Monro Canteens at Rawal Pindi, Lahore, Delhi and other important centres, Monro canteens have been established for the use of British troops at Quetta and Peshawar and are being largely used. The opening of a similar canteen at Kalabagh has been approved. Tea rooms are being established at various rail way stations for the special use of Indian troops and General Officers Comanding Forces are making simiar arrangements at all stations and camps at the front where such an organisation may be needed. To ensure that the above arrangements for the health and comfort of the troops are working satisfactorily and up to the standard designed by the Commander-in-Chief in India, Staff officers from General Headquarters carry out under His Excellency's orders frequent tours of inspection on the Frontier."
With regard to the second part of the question, I am having specific inquiry made into each definite allegation that is brought to my notice.

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