Oral Answers to Questions — Naval and Military Pensions and Grants.

– in the House of Commons at on 20 February 1933.

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Photo of Mr Neville Smith-Carington Mr Neville Smith-Carington , Rutland and Stamford

35.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been drawn to the case of an ex-naval rating named Watts, who has failed to obtain a pension which he claimed on the ground that he was disabled as a result of the prominent part which he took in the attack on Zeebrugge in April, 1918; and whether he will make full inquiry into the case?

Photo of Mr George Tryon Mr George Tryon , Brighton

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for giving me an opportunity of stating the facts of this case, which has received some publicity owing to the supposed connection between the disability claimed by the man and his alleged part in the naval action at Zeebrugge. Watts first made a claim to pension last year, 14 years after the end of the War, for a disability which the Ministry was unable to find to be connected with his war service, but, in view of recent statements, I again ordered an exhaustive investigation of all the circumstances. Watts is reported to have claimed that he took part in the action at Zeebrugge, being stationed on a submarine which he was charged to sink by explosion in Zeebrugge harbour, and that he was severely gassed while swimming away after the explosion. On being questioned, however, he withdrew this claim, but then stated that he was serving on a motor launch near the scene of action in order to pick up survivors. Investigation of these statements has shown them to be entirely false, and Watts has now confessed that he was not present at the action at all.