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Home-Coming Troops (Steam And Rail Accommodation)

Volume 414: debated on Wednesday 17 October 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for War, what changes in transport conditions he proposes to institute as a result of his recent investigations; and whether he is aware that some of the French ships bringing British troops from Alexandria to Toulon are in a filthy condition and rat-ridden and that for the 40-hour journey across France, old German 3rd-class coaches are used with great discomfort.

I have not made any recent investigations into this particular aspect of the transport question. My right hon. Friend the Minister of War Transport is now making inquiries regarding the ships referred to, and further information on that point will be sent to my hon. Friend in due course. As regards the last part of the Question, there is an extreme shortage of railway stock on the Continent, and it was only by making use of captured stock that it was found possible to maintain the daily service across France for troops returning home for release, leave, or Python repatriation. It is hoped that the German coaches will be replaced in the near future by more comfortable stock. While it is regretted that the homeward journey cannot always be as comfortable as we could wish I am sure that the soldiers would prefer a certain amount of discomfort to a postponement of their home-coming, where this is the only alternative.