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Murdered British Officer

Volume 415: debated on Wednesday 31 October 1945

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At the end of Questions

May I ask the Foreign Secretary whether, in view of the interest taken in certain Questions that were not asked today, and in view of the report of the murder of a British officer, he can now make a statement in reply to Question 21?

"21. MAJOR WELLS,—To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has regarding the state of public order in Java; and what steps are being taken to protect, care for and assist the repatriation of British nationals, and especially of British, Imperial and allied and ex-prisoners of war."

Fighting broke out in Soura-baya on 28th October, and the House will be aware of the B.B.C. report of the treacherous murder of Brigadier Mallaby, Commander of the British forces there, by extremist Indonesian elements when arranging the details of a truce. His Majesty's Government are awaiting confirmation as no official report has yet been received. Batavia is reported to be quiet, but in a number of the other towns the situation is reported to be tense. In Sumatra British troops are in control of Palembang, Padang and Medan, and the situation is satisfactory.

According to the latest information received, only 256 British Commonwealth ex-prisoners of war at present remain in Java. These are mainly Indian, but a few from the United Kingdom are remaining voluntarily to assist in the identification of war criminals. Altogether a total of 2,497 ex-prisoners of war have been evacuated from Java, of which 59 were American nationals, 157 Dutch and the remainder British.

In view of the tragic news of the death of this gallant officer, will the right hon. Gentleman give the House further information on the matter as soon as he receives it?

May I ask why the whole of this information was not given in reply to Question No. 9, which was asked?

When I was compiling these answers, the form of Question No. 21 seemed more appropriate for the answer. The hon. Member's Question did not ask for all the details asked for in Question No. 21. I was not aware that the hon. Member who had put down Question 21 would not be in his place to ask it.