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Casualties, Far East (Records)

Volume 416: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a number of N.C.O.s and men, while prisoners of war in the Far East, compiled and maintained, at personal risk to themselves, full records of their comrades with whom they were in touch; whether he has taken all possible steps to collect these records and what authority he proposes to give to the evidence contained in them; and whether he will see that the services of these men in keeping these records do not go without some permanent recognition.

The majority of the lists referred to have been in possession of the War Office for some time, and are one of the main sources from which casualty information in the Far East has been obtained. Much of the information has already been promulgated to next-of-kind. Returned prisoners of war are urged to hand over to the War Office any information they may have regarding casualties. They are addressed in this sense on the ship bringing them home, and are asked to complete a pro-forma giving details of their information.It is known that the Japanese did their utmost and took strong disciplinary measures to prevent prisoners from keeping records, and the action of those individual prisoners who maintained such records was highly commendable. Consideration will be given to these as well as to other praiseworthy acts of our prisoners during their long period of captivity.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a large number of relatives of prisoners taken in Burma are still unaware, to their distress, whether those prisoners are alive or dead, and that, in order to help them to obtain news, a prominent Scottish paper, the "Sunday Post," has set up an exchange of information column which is used weekly by hundreds of anxious Scottish relatives; and will he take steps to collate such information through his Department.

I am aware of the activities of the Scottish paper referred to in the first part of the Question. I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer I gave on 30th October last to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) about the missing in the Far East, and to the answer given by me today in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low). As I said on 30th October my Department welcomes any information from the relatives, whether it is received through the medium of the Press or otherwise.