§ Mr. HOPKINS
asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the circumstances of the return of the Armoured Car Brigade to Belton Park camp from Mesopotamia on 28th February; if lie is aware that after a midnight march the men were kept standing in the cold for two hours, as no preparations had been made for their reception; if they had to sleep on the floor in un-warmed huts without blankets; if he will state how many men were afterwards sent to hospital; and if any died as the result of these conditions?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Inquiries are being made which are not yet complete, but I regret to say according to the information I have so far received, that owing to the delay in delivery of a telegram which might have rectified matters, these men appear to have arrived at their depot at Grantham about 11 p.m. without preparations having been made for their reception. Upon their arrival the staff at once turned out, and arrangements were made to house them in empty huts, and to get a2270W substantial hot meal ready. I am informed that fires were lighted in the huts, and the meal was served about 1 a.m.
I understand that it was found impossible to issue blankets for the men that night, but I am not clear at present why this was so, and I am having further inquiry made as to this point.
The strength of the unit marching in. was thirty-one officers, 496 other ranks. It is reported that seventy-two have since been admitted into hospital suffering from influenza, of whom six have died of pneumonia following influenza.
I will give directions for a special inquiry to be instituted with the intention of fixing responsibility for a lamentable miscarriage, and preventing, as far as possible, all risk of its recurrence.