82. Mr. R. Adams
asked the Secretary of State for War what disciplinary action is being taken against those responsible for the conditions at Muar camp.
§ Mr. Bellenger
As I have stated, I had already taken steps to discover who was responsible for the conditions at this camp in order that appropriate action might be taken.
The proceedings of the court of inquiry, which I have now studied, show that the main cause of the bad conditions was that certain necessary engineer work had not been completed by the time the main body of the 13th Parachute Battalion 331W arrived. This was due to a combination of circumstances, including:
- (a) Shortage of engineer labour and materials.
- (b) Insufficient effort on the part of the outgoing battalion to improve the camp and to draw attention to the deficiencies.
- (c) Shortage of brigade staff in Malaya, due to heavy commitments in Java, which led to overwork and to errors of procedure in obtaining engineer assistance.
- (d) Errors of judgment on the part of the brigade staff and of the officer in charge of the battalion advance party, and a failure to realise the urgency of the matter.
- (e) A failure to appreciate the full implications of the change-over from war to peace conditions and standards, which occurred at this time.
- (f) Heavy rain, which coincided with the arrival of the battalion at Muar and which flooded the tents and the ground to an unprecedented extent.
In all the circumstances I consider that no specific blame calling for disciplinary action can be attached to any individual.