HC Deb 24 June 1919 vol 117 cc38-9W

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the large number of cases of men in the Royal Army Service Corps and the Royal Army Medical Corps who have served in France or other fronts since August, 1914, and who are eligible for release under Army Order 14 of the 29th January last, but who are being retained indefinitely on the plea that they cannot be spared or replaced because their units form part of the military machinery of demobilisation; whether he is aware of the hardships imposed upon these men, who have served for upwards of four and a half years in the field, and who are now faced with a further indefinite period of military service, to the detriment of their future prospects in civilian life; and whether steps will be taken to permit all such men in, these two units to return at the earliest possible moment and replace them by drafts from other units of men who are not eligible for release under Army-Order 14?


All men who are eligible for demobilisation under the Army Order referred to are being released as rapidly as possible, but with regard to the two corps mentioned by my hon. Friend, I would refer him to the Schedule contained in that Army Order, which provides for the temporary retention of the personnel of certain administrative corps, including the Royal Army Service Corps and Royal Army Medical Corps, until their services can be spared or until they can be replaced. It has always been the practice to replace men so retained as speedily as possible by men who are not eligible for demobilisation, but in the majority of cases the latter have to undergo a course of instruction before they can perform the required duties, and so enable the demobilisable men to be released. I would also refer my hon. Friend to the statement made in my speech on the Army Estimates on 29th May, to the effect that, if peace is signed this month, it is hoped to send home all the remaining 1914 men by the end of June, and the 1915 men by the end of July, men from India in each case excepted.