Fallen Personnel (Re-interment)

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th October 1946.

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Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff Central 12:00 am, 8th October 1946

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will take steps to prevent the exhumation and re-interment in Germany of the bodies of those Welshmen who fought in the battle for the Siegfried Line.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered protests from British Legions and others in Wales and Monmouthshire against the decision to re-inter members of the Welsh Division, who lost their lives in the fighting on the Siegfried Line, in German soil; whether the decision is irrevocable; and, if not, if he will take the sense of the House on the matter.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

It is clearly most desirable that all the British war graves overseas should be placed within permanent cemeteries, where they can be properly maintained. Re-interment in many cases is, therefore, unavoidable. The general policy regarding re-burial was carefully considered by His Majesty's Government, who decided that the graves should be concentrated within military cemeteries in the countries and zones in which the men fell. Many died and are buried in enemy countries, and the particular case to which attention has been drawn is in no sense exceptional. Repatriation to the United Kingdom would be impracticable as a general rule and the British and Dominion Governments decided about a year ago not to allow any exceptions to that rule.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff Central

Is the Minister aware that the British Legion in South Wales have expressed considerable feeling on this matter, and has a reply been sent on this issue to the people who have expressed their opposition to this move?

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

This is a very difficult matter. We can all understand and sympathise with the relatives of those who have fallen overseas; but, speaking with some experience of two world wars, I think we had better let them rest in the countries where they fell in conditions which I have seen myself and which, as far as cemeteries are concerned, are admirable.