Oral Answers to Questions — Libya (British Tank Losses)

– in the House of Commons on 8th September 1942.

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Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Lanarkshire Northern

asked the Prime Minister the number of British tanks that were destroyed by the Germans in Libya on 13th June, with a view to correcting public misconception on this matter; and who informed him that some 230 British tanks were lost in that one day's fighting?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Epping

My statement that 230 tanks were lost on 13th June was based on a misreading of the terms of the telegram from the Middle East. According to the latest information, about 200 tanks were lost over a period of about a week. It is not possible to say exactly how many were lost on 13th June, but the bulk of the losses probably took place on that and the previous day.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Lanarkshire Northern

Is it not a pity that the truth was not made public sooner, instead of allowing people to believe, for three whole months, that on 13th June there had been a sort of Balaclava charge in which we lost 230 tanks in an ambush, because that was a grave injustice both to our leaders and to the training of the Royal Armoured Corps?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Epping

I always do my best to give the House the fullest and the earliest information possible, and on this occasion I acted in an entirely bona fide manner. I gave the best information in my possession, and I cannot feel myself at all blameworthy in the matter.