HC Deb 28 October 1919 vol 120 cc484-5W

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in issuing to members of the Volunteer Force His Majesty's letter of thanks in which mention is made in each case of the service rendered, all service given in the Volunteer Training Corps prior to the official recognition of the force is ignored; and, if so, whether the decision on this point can be reconsidered in view of the fact that the question of the invasion of this country was at least as doubtful and subject to vicissitude prior to the recognition of the force as it was subsequently and that the members of the force with the longest service receive no official acknowledgment of their wholly spontaneous effort and example prior to 1916?


The War Office fully appreciates the patriotism which induced a large number of civilians to band themselves together for Home Defence in case of invasion, and it was the admitted usefulness of these Volunteer bodies that led to the decision in May, 1916, to organise the Volunteers under the Act of 1863. The fact remains, however, that until they were brought under the Act these Volunteers were not under any legal obligation as soldiers. The War Office holds no records of service prior to May, 1916, as up to that date the general administration of these bodies was under the Central Association, Volunteer Training Corps, who appointed their own officers and formed their own rules. In these circumstances the letters of thanks to which my right hon. Friend refers must be limited to Volunteers who were enrolled under the Volunteer Act and who thereby became a definite part of the Home Defence organisation.