British Prisoners of War.

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 3rd February 1942.

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Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Chislehurst

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that the duty of searching hospitals in enemy and enemy-occupied territory, allocated to the Red Cross, is being carried out efficiently, and that the next-of-kin of all officers and men in these hospitals have been informed of the fate of their relatives?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I am not altogether clear what my hon. Friend has in mind. Occasionally the War Office receives information about missing personnel from national Red Cross societies in enemy-occupied territories. This assistance which is much appreciated, is entirely voluntary and unofficial in character. It is often extremely difficult to establish the identity of the individuals to whom these reports refer, but wherever such identification is possible the information is communicated to the next-of-kin.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Chislehurst

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend think that these organisations are adequate, and are the next of kin being given the fullest information possible in order to relieve their anxiety?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

It is very difficult for me to answer the first part of the Supplementary Question, because the organisation is inside enemy-occupied territory and I have no power over it. Any information that is obtained is certainly given to the relatives.

Photo of Mr Thomas Hewlett Mr Thomas Hewlett , Manchester Exchange

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the condition of the British prisoners of war in Camp 2, Stalag XXIE, as regards unsuitable accommodation, inadequate food and unsatisfactory cleansing arrangements; and whether, as nearly 1,000 prisoners are concerned, he will as soon as possible, make inquiries through the Protecting Power to ensure better treatment?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

Information has been received which indicates that the accommodation for British prisoners of war at Stalag XXIE is not satisfactory. The matter has been taken up with the Protecting Power, and an early visit to the camp will be made.

Photo of Mr Thomas Hewlett Mr Thomas Hewlett , Manchester Exchange

While thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask that extra special efforts be made, as I understand many of the prisoners of war were those brought to Rouen for repatriation purposes?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

Yes, Sir, I have asked that this shall be made a matter of urgency.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any statement to make regarding the ill-treatment of British prisoners of war by the Italians at Bardia?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I am not yet in a position to add anything to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) on 28th January.