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British Army

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1954

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Boys (Detention)


asked the Secretary of State for War why 22815879 Boy Hands, Infantry Boys' Battalion, Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, is having to do his detention in Colchester Military Prison; and if he will arrange to have separate detention barracks for boys.

Army boys are not sent to prisons and are only sent exceptionally, after a sentence by court-martial, to a military corrective establishment such as Colchester. Boys at Colchester are segregated and are specially treated.

Does the hon. Gentleman think that the "glasshouse" in Colchester is the right place for boys of 16 years of age? Is it not possible to have a separate detention barracks because, whilst I know that some of these boys commit offences, nevertheless they should not be put amongst men, and I should have thought that it would be in the interests of the parents of the boys to know that this is not the case in the "glasshouse" in Colchester or in any other place?

Boys under detention at Colchester are segregated, living in a separate room and messing at a separate table in the dining hall. At present there are only four of them at Colchester. Their room is close to the company office and they are specially watched by the company commander by day and by the N.C.O. in charge of the company watch by night. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that too close contact is undesirable, but he will probably agree that these arrangements avoid contact.

Are they exercised with the adult prisoners, and do they undergo the same punishment with the adult men prisoners?

They do one period of physical training and one period of drill daily, and the remainder of the day is devoted to education. They are separated in these activities.

Territorial Army (Out-Of-Camp Training)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many morning ceremonial parades for civic authorities or week-end attendances on firing-ranges would have to be carried out over three years by a National Service soldier in the Territorial Army to fulfil his statutory obligation of 15 days' out-of-camp training.

A National Service soldier in the Territorial Army carries out his 15 days' out-of-camp training by attending week-end camps or by single days of training or by hourly periods of instruction, four such periods counting as a day's training. Attendances at the rare ceremonial parades or for week-end firing count towards his obligation according to the time involved.

Whilst thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for that answer, may I ask if he is aware that in the little leaflet he sent me, entitled "Your Service in the Territorial Army," which is issued to all National Service men on finishing their two years' service and going into the Territorial Army, the information he has given me is not included, and would he consider including it in future?

I will look into that. I have not the pamphlet in front of me, but I should expect it to contain what I have said.

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether the ceremonial morning parades are compulsory?

I should like to have an example of ceremonial parades because, to my knowledge, they are extremely rare, and I should like to look into any example which the right hon. Gentleman can give me, because I believe they are also not compulsory.

Hospital Cases (Information To Next Of Kin)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the perfunctory way in which, on the admission of a soldier to hospital, the next of kin are informed of the nature of the soldier's illness; and whether he will issue instructions to all those authorised to sign hospital redirection cards, Army Form A.2042A, to ensure that the nature of the soldier's illness or wounds is more clearly defined and the next of kin saved from undue anxiety.

Whenever a soldier is admitted to hospital as a battle casualty or suffering from a serious illness or injury his next of kin is informed by telegram followed by a letter. Great care is taken in the wording of these communications so as to give full and accurate information. In other cases it is, I think rightly, left to the man himself to decide whether to let his family know of his admission to hospital either by letter or by this special form, which is primarily a notification of his new postal address.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have in my possession an Army form A.2042A, which was sent in respect of a lad in the Middle East, which bears the information to the boy's parents that he has been admitted to hospital with multiple injuries? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the anxiety that was caused to those parents when it took four days to receive a reply, by prepaid telegram, from the War Office which stated:

"When we hear what has happened to the boy we will let you know."
Surely more details could be supplied to parents when a soldier is injured. Will the Minister see that the form is altered so as to provide the fullest details?

I think that it will be generally agreed that it is right to leave to a man, unless he is seriously or dangerously ill, the decision as to what he should tell his parents. He may not want to tell them that he is in hospital, so as to avoid causing them anxiety. I have not seen the form which the hon. Member has quoted. I should like to look into the matter, but I imagine that the soldier himself filled in the form.

No, it was not in the soldier's handwriting. It was in the sister's handwriting.

Us Manoeuvres (British Army Observers)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the seven British Army officers who attended the United States Flash Burn manoeuvres have now returned to Europe in order to give a first-hand eye-witness account to British officers at regimental and battalion level.

The one Army officer who went from this country has returned and is preparing a report.

Will my hon. Friend see that this Army officer does not merely prepare a report which may be the foundation of a paper issued several months hence but, on the contrary, that he gives first-hand eye-witness lectures, because that is the best way to teach these things?

I should like to think about that, but it would be a little difficult, would it not, to ask one officer to give eye-witness lectures to the whole of the British Army. Somehow or other this information must be put out in writing as well

Is it not a fact that seven officers from the British Army were invited to attend? Why could not more than one come back to this country?

The others are members of the British Army staff in Washington. It is best to wait and see what is contained in the reports provided by this officer and other observers and consider then what more we can do.