HC Deb 14 February 1946 vol 419 cc158-9W
Mr. Garry Allighan

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that certain men of B Squadron, 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry, were entrained at Padua at 5 p.m. on 20th January, in windowless trains, with wooden seats and no lights; that they arrived at Taranto at 1 p.m. on the third day, marched through rain over ploughed fields and were billeted in tents without lights; that throughout this journey the food was unsatisfactory; and whether he will investigate the conditions revealed.

Mr. Lawson

The train used for this journey was composed of the normal coaching stock used on the route in question; as is normal in Italian coaches the third class coaches had wooden seats. Where windows are without glass they are boarded up, but improvements in this respect are being made as glass becomes available. It is unfortunately not possible at present to provide lights in all continental coaches, but again steps are being taken to improve matters. During the journey in question meals were provided at the normal halts. No breakfast halt had been arranged on the second morning because the train was due to arrive at 6 a.m. It was in fact six hours late, but extra rations are carried on the train to provide for emergencies of this sort. I am informed that the standard of meals provided at meal halts in C.M.F. is generally considered to be good. On arrival the march to the transit camp was not across ploughed fields, but along a recognised track. Although this track was no doubt muddy on this occasion, its use reduces the distance to be marched by half. Hurricane lamps at about double the normal scale were provided at the transit camp.