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Far Eastern Drafts (Training)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for War the conditions of training and of service which have to be fulfilled before a National Service man is ordered to serve in the Far East; and, in particular, the length of unexpired service required prior to embarkation.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an assurance that no men will be sent to the Far East who have less than nine months' service to complete.

As I have stated on a number of previous occasions, a soldier must have completed 16 weeks' training and a total of 18 weeks' service before embarkation for the Far East. As regards the length of unexpired service required prior to embarkation for the Far East, the normal rule is that National Service men must have not less than nine months' unexpired service to complete on arrival in the theatre, that is about 10½ months on embarkation. There are, however, occasions when it is found necessary, owing to operational requirements, to reduce the minimum period of unexpired service on embarkation to about 7½ months. All the men may expect to return to the United Kingdom in time to be released with their age and service groups.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at a case, if I send it to him, where a man has less than six months to serve before he is to return from Hong Kong?

If the hon. and gallant Member sends me a case which he wants me to look into, I certainly shall do so.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say for what percentage of the total number of men sent out to the Far East this year a period of less than nine months' unexpired service has been accepted by the Army authorities for operational reasons?

If I send details of a lad of 17½ who I understand is being sent to the Far East with very much less than 12 weeks' training, will my right hon. Friend look into the matter at pretty short notice?

There should be no cases, so far as I am aware—certainly, if there are such cases, they are contrary to the instructions I have issued—where men have been sent to the Far East recently without having had 18 weeks' service and a minimum of 16 weeks' training.

In addition to training at home, do men sent out go to a base camp and have further training before being sent up the line?