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Transport Conditions

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 12 April 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the state of the trains used to convey British Service personnel across Europe to and from Udine; and whether he will take steps to have windows repaired and heating systems put in order before the full rigours of winter begin.

The stock used between the Channel Ports and Milan is in good condition. Between Milan and Udine poorer stock must sometimes be used if the numbers travelling are to be maintained. Every effort is made to improve conditions and an alternative route is scheduled to open next month which will ease the situation.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the bad conditions of transport for men of the C.M.F. coming on leave from and returning to Italy, as exemplified by the unsatisfactory conditions of transit camps, such as those at Tibenham, Norfolk, where troops are kept up to 14 days and the overcrowding on the troopship "Johann de Witt" at Southampton; and if he will take steps to improve transport conditions.

I dealt with the incidents mentioned in my reply yesterday to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for North Kensington (Mr. Rogers). I cannot agree that conditions in general are bad. In order to provide for as many men as possible we make the fullest use of the limited transport facilities we have, by air, land and sea. There is necessarily a certain amount of overcrowding at times but the majority of those who travel prefer this to a reduction in the amount of leave or repatriation, which is the only alternative. We are constantly working to improve the general standard.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether an alternative method of transportation to the United Kingdom will be arranged for approximately 1,000 Army personnel due for repatriation from East Africa Command or or about 15th December next under Python, who have now been informed that the earliest boat available will not be before 8th January, 1946, due to the cancellation of berthing accommodation originally available to them in the "Ie de France," due in East Africa on, approximately, 17th December,1945.

The hon. and gallant Member appears to have been misinformed. There has been no cancellation of the arrangements made for the repatriation of these troops.