Reported Atrocities

Oral Answers to Questions — Greece – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th November 1947.

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Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff Central 12:00 am, 17th November 1947

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reports he has received from our representatives in Greece concerning the barbaric conduct of Greek regular soldiers trained by the British Military Mission; and whether he proposes to take any action.

Photo of Mr John Platts-Mills Mr John Platts-Mills , Finsbury

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered the evidence of atrocities committed by Greek regular troops details of which have been sent to him, and if he will demand from the Greek Government the return of all the arms and equipment which we provided and with which the troops carrying out these atrocities were armed and equipped.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has considered the evidence submitted to him of atrocities committed against the civil population by Greek regular soldiers and police in British uniform and armed with weapons supplied by this country; and if he will consider withdrawing all this equipment from the Greek Army.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reports he has received from the British Ambassador in Athens regarding recent atrocities in Greece.

Photo of Captain Charles Smith Captain Charles Smith , Colchester

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the fact that the Greek police have failed to profit by the training given by the Police Mission, as shown by the recent beheadings of civilians, he will withdraw that mission.

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Norfolk Southern

His Majesty's Government have received many reports of the murders, torture, rape, disfigurement of bodies, and other horrible atrocities committed by both sides in Greece. We utterly condemn such atrocities, which are deeply shocking to British public opinion, and against which the British authorities in Greece have always used their influence. On seeing the reports of decapitations and beatings which appeared in the "Daily Mirror" of 10th November, to which I assume the hon. Members are principally referring, my right hon. Friend at once instructed His Majesty's Ambassador at Athens to bring them to the attention of the Greek Government, and he has now been informed that the Minister of Public Order immediately reissued the orders already in force against the display of heads and beating of prisoners, and is investigating the accusations made with a view to establishing responsibility for the breach of previous orders. My right hon. Friend considers that the withdrawal at this stage of our Military and Police Missions from Greece would be unwarranted.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff Central

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Minister to whom he refers has publicly stated that it is a Greek custom to bring back these heads when rewards are claimed, and does he not think that we are placing British soldiers in an unenviable position in asking them to stand on one side, as they have had to do and witness the carrying out of these decapitations?

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Norfolk Southern

The first part of the question I can answer by saying that the Greek Government have issued strict orders that decapitation shall stop.

Photo of Mr John Platts-Mills Mr John Platts-Mills , Finsbury

Is my hon. Friend not apprehensive that people throughout the world will suspect, however wrongly, that British troops, being there, are in some' way responsible for these barbaric practices; and will he not withdraw those troops at once to avoid any danger of such a misunderstanding?

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Norfolk Southern

I think it is monstrous to suggest that British troops can in any way be responsible for these atrocities.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

While we all deprecate any atrocities on whichever side in Greece or in any other country, would not the situation at once be eased if intervention were not encouraged into Greece from across the northern frontier?

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

As my hon. Friend has conceded that both sides are guilty of rape, murder, robbery and other atrocities, does he not consider that it is high time that we ceased to give any support through arms, men and money to one of those sides?