Troops in Mesopotamia and India.

Oral Answers to Questions — Demobilisation. – in the House of Commons on 28th October 1919.

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Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

17.

asked the Secretary of State for War if men who have been in Mesopotamia and India during the past summer will be compelled under the Military Service Act to remain another summer in those hot climates?

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

Orders have been issued for all men serving under the Military Service Acts to be dispatched from their present stations by 1st April, 1920, at the latest, subject to the necessary transport being available.

Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

Does that mean that all the men who took part last summer in Mesopotamia and India will be dispatched from those climates by the 1st April next?

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

Yes; all the men other than volunteers. I cannot give the number of volunteers who were there last summer.

Photo of Hon. Edward Wood Hon. Edward Wood , Ripon

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are men now in Mesopotamia who were sent out there in the autumn of 1916, who have had no leave and have now been transferred to work with labour corps in charge of Arabs and Turks?

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

I think that is covered by the answer I have just given.

Photo of Sir Robert Houston Sir Robert Houston , Liverpool West Toxteth

Will the right hon. Gentleman give me any assurance that the men in the Royal Army Service Corps in Mesopotamia, about whom I have written to him, will be released at an early dates Some of them have been there since the beginning of the War.

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

We are doing everything we can to get these men home as rapidly as possible. The men of the Royal Army Service Corps will, of course, be included in the answer I have given.

Colonel BURN:

34.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can give an assurance that all the 1914–15 men serving in India, Egypt, and Mesopotamia will be returned to this country by the end of this year; what decision has been arrived at regarding the future of the Yeomanry; and if the regiments will be re-formed as they were before the War?

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

Orders have been issued which provide for the dispatch to the United Kingdom of all 1914–15 men, including men enlisted under the Derby scheme who are serving in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and are eligible for demobilisation by 1st November, 1919, subject to the necessary shipping being available. In the case of India, where demobilisation has been delayed owing to the operations against Afghanistan and the internal situation in that country, an extra period of time up to 1st February has been given, by which date, given the necessary shipping, these men should have started for home. In practice, however, the return of these men has been greatly accelerated, and there is every reason to hope that every man who enlisted in 1914 or 1915, and who is eligible for demobilisation, will have left India before the end of the year. With regard to the latter part of the question, no final decision has yet been reached as to the number of mounted Yeomanry regiments which will be required in the new Territorial Force, or how they will be employed, and it is not possible therefore at this stage to say whether the regiments will be re-formed as before the War or not.

Colonel BURN:

Will the right hon. Gentlemen consider the great necessity there is of making up their minds exactly as to what they intend to do in the future on account of the numerous men who are anxious to rejoin their old regimentals?

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

I think we all realise fully the very urgent need of a very speedy decision.

Photo of Colonel Sir Joseph Nall Colonel Sir Joseph Nall , Manchester Hulme

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the real reason for this procrastination about the Territorial Force? Is it not a very simple matter to allow the force to be re-formed on the old basis?

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

I do not think that is the only consideration that ought to be taken in account.

Photo of Colonel Charles Yate Colonel Charles Yate , Melton

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that in the present state of the shipping question there are ships sufficient to bring all these men home at the time mentioned?

Mr. SPEAKER:

That question should be addressed to the Ministry of Shipping.

Photo of Colonel Sir James Greig Colonel Sir James Greig , Renfrewshire Western

Is it not the fact that the fundamental difficulty in the reconstitution of the Yeomanry and Territorial units is the question of finance and the wave of insistence on economy which is sweeping over the country?

Photo of Mr Henry Forster Mr Henry Forster , Bromley

Yes. I can only say we are doing everything we can to come to a speedy decision.