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Troops, Korea

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 24 April 1951

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10 and 11.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) if he is aware of the concern felt by troops in Korea and their relatives at home at the present unsatisfactory methods of keeping these forces correctly informed on current affairs; and what action he proposes to take to improve the present position;

(2) to state the present arrangements whereby forces on active service in Korea are kept informed of day-to-day military activities, especially with regard to factual information concerning their release.

Information on current affairs and military activities, including factual information concerning their release, is supplied to troops in Korea by Formation Broadsheets, which are produced daily, with special week-end supplements, by Royal Army Educational Corps teams in the field. The "Circle News" is produced by 29th Brigade and the "Korean Base Gazette" is also circulated. In addition, the "Japan News," an English paper produced in Tokyo, and copies of various United Kingdom Sunday newspapers, are sent to Korea by air on the basis of one copy to five men. Both the Broadsheets and the "Japan News" are supplied with world and home news by the War Office News Service, including full statements of all Government and War Office handouts on release questions, and in addition, information about release is conveyed to the troops through formation and unit orders. I do not regard these arrangements as unsatisfactory.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the fact that newspapers printed in Tokyo, which I believe are referred to as the garrison newspapers by the troops in Korea, have contained many wild rumours, and, if I send him particulars of detailed complaints, will he look into the matter?

Does the right hon. Gentleman feel that the morale of the troops will be encouraged if they receive a report of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the former Minister of Labour and National Service?

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether it would be possible to place samples of these Formation Broadsheets, to which reference has been made, in the Library of the House, so that hon. Members may get an idea of the type of news which the troops are getting?

19.

asked the Secretary of State for War what consideration was given to the high cost of living in Japan for troops going on leave when it was decided there would be no overseas allowance for troops in Korea.

The Commander of the British Commonwealth forces was specifically asked whether he considered leave costs would swing the balance of overall expense of officers or other ranks so as to create a need for local overseas allowance. He considered that it did not.

Does not the Minister appreciate that the troops fighting in Korea take a very poor view of the fact that the men in Hong Kong get better pay than themselves? Is it not time that the right hon. Gentleman took notice of that fact, an did something about it?

We have gone to the length of soliciting the Commander of the British Commonwealth Forces to say that there is a case for an overseas allowance. I do not think we can go further than that.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to create a British Commonwealth Division in Korea out of the brigade and troops already allocated there.

The formation of a British Commonwealth Division in Korea is under consideration.

24.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will ensure that there is adequate accommodation for our troops in Korea when not actually engaged in the fighting, bearing in mind that accommodation in tents is not suitable in that climate.

Wherever possible static units in rear areas have been accommodated either in buildings or in Nissen huts. Units in forward areas who are likely to move at short notice are forced to use such accommodation as may be available locally. I understand that forward units have been using factories and farms.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the conditions in Korea in the summer entail a hardship equal to, if not greater than, those in winter where tentage is being used, and will he take every opportunity to avoid the use of tentage wherever possible?

I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman is quite right in what he says about the climatic conditions, but, of course, we must leave it to the commanders in the field to see how they accommodate their men.