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Wednesday, 25 March 1942


Mr WILSON (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I ask the Minister for the Army whether he can give me an assurance that effect will be given to an order issued by him some time ago, details of which appeared in the press, that young men of eighteen years of age who had been posted to operational stations, would be withdrawn and replaced by men of more mature age?


Mr FORDE - by leave - Representations have recently been made to me concerning members of the military forces under nineteen years of age posted to Port Moresby, Darwin and other operational stations by military officers without reference to me, and as to what age groups should be sent to these operational centres.

As honorable members are well aware, the necessities - of the war situation required the calling up for military training of youths of eighteen years of age and upwards. In pursuance of this programme, a number of young men who were physically fit and not already engaged in reserved occupations, were called up for military duty and were posted and absorbed as integral parts of the existing unit organization. Being young and energetic, and having had the advantage of the association with older men who had had longer military experience, they quickly became a useful part of the army organization. In the over-riding necessity for national defence it became necessary at extremely short notice to strengthen certain northern defences. Accordingly, certain units were posted to these stations. It so happened that these units contained some of the younger men referred to. The urgency of the situation did not permit the withdrawal of these younger men from their units. It will be realized that such action would not only have had an upsetting effect on the organization, hut also it would have involved the necessity for obtaining personnel from elsewhere to take their places. Such a disturbance would have had a damaging effect on morale. The majority of the men affected have now had more than three months' training.







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