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French Coastal Areas (Bombing)

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 17 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in the planning of the air attacks made on Lorient in the latter part of January, due consideration was given to the suffering and hardships inflicted upon French civilians; and whether the Government are satisfied that the importance of the military objectives attained justified raids on a scale and of a severity generally reserved for objectives in enemy territory?

As I stated in this House on 11th February, the task of overcoming the U-boats has been given first priority in all the British and American plans. The destruction of U-boat bases is an essential part of this strategy. Very heavy blows have already been delivered by the R.A.F. and the United States Army Air Corps against the U-boat bases, both in Germany and in occupied France. We have repeatedly urged the French population to leave coastal areas. A large part of the civil population of Brest and Lorient have in fact been evacuated, and the Germans have attempted to conceal the severity of the raids from the German crews expected to use Lorient. The qualities of resistance displayed by the French people day by day are well known, and I have no doubt that they will understand that operations such as the bombing of Lorient will bring victory nearer and thus hasten the day of France's deliverance.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any direct evidence to show that the bombs do break through the U-boat kennels, as they are called?