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War Despatches (Publication)

Volume 409: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1945

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48.

asked the Prime Minister what were the considerations which led to the decision to publish Lord Gort's despatch on the Battle of France and to withhold publication of the despatches relating to other campaigns in this war.

Lord Gort's despatches were withheld from publication for over a year, until such time as they could be published without detriment to the public interest. I hope that the other numerous despatches will be published in the near future.

Although I welcome that advance on previous indications which the right hon. Gentleman has given, may I ask whether "the near future" means before the end of the war with Germany, or before the end of the war with Japan?

In regard to those that concern the war with Germany, it means the end of the war with Germany. As to those that concern the war with Japan, they obviously have to be looked upon with much more strict supervision.

Will the right hon. Gentleman now consider publishing despatches concerning the Italian campaign as the war with Italy, I take it, is now over?

The war with Italy began with Italy but it finished up with Germany, and for more than a year past we have been fighting Germany in Italy, and many Italian troops have been fighting on our side. Operations there are so intermingled that we had better restrain our impatience till the momentary lull which is supposed to follow the defeat of Germany. In that time there may be good opportunity to publish despatches, but it would be very foolish to pour them out on the newspapers at this time—apart from security—when our Forces are advancing with such great rapidity and when the newspapers are so small, and very likely the despatches of these distinguished officers would not receive the attention that they deserve.