HC Deb 22 July 1913 vol 55 cc2013-6

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Gulland.]


I should like to ask the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs a brief question arising from the rather disastrous news from the Near East. A report dated 5th July from Salonica shows that very exceptional distress exists there, and I should like to say a few words to indicate the urgency of the case. The Foreign Office is in communication with the Red Cross Society, and that society may be very glad of suggestions arising out of the peculiar knowledge which the Foreign Office possesses. This report, from a well known correspondent at Salonica, says:— The cost of these victories has been very great, and there are already (before war has been declared) over eight thousand Greek soldiers lying wounded here The hospitals are overflowing, being far fuller than at the time of the occupation. Then the inmates were suffering more from exposure and dysentery, but now from wounds. As only about twenty wounded Bulgars have been brought in here, it is appalling to think of the sufferings of those lying uncared for on the battlefield. The remainder of the army having fled in disorder, it can only be supposed that their wounded were left behind to their fate.….We have already between 2,000 and 3,000 Greek refugees in this town, and there are some 15,000 more collected in the neighbourhood not allowed to come in. On the other hand, the Greeks are bringing in all the Bulgarian peasants from the near districts and deporting them straight Mt by steamer. It is sad to see the old and young driven like cattle through the streets and along the quay on their way into exile: and, after all, it is really more humane than the wholesale slaughtering attributed to-the Bulgars. What will become of the women and children left behind? Truly, European statesmanship has nothing to be proud of. I think I am in order in raising this question of the Red Cross Society which has been very busy dealing with the refugees. Commandant Radcliffe did splendid and useful work for several thousands or these refugees. Therefore, the society has concerned itself not merely with the relief of the wounded, but with the needs and the-destitution resulting from the inevitable evils from which combatants suffer in time of war. I venture to hope that the Foreign Office will impress on the Red Cross Society the extreme need that exists not only in Servia and Greece, to which I understand the society has already despatched contingents, but also in Thrace. As we know from the correspondent of the "Times" and others in Bulgaria, it is desirable that a contingent should go at the first possible moment.


May I repeat the question which I asked last night of the Under-Secretary, whether he has received any information as to the condition in Adrianople, and whether the Turks have entered the city, and whether there was any fighting?


I may answer the last question first. We have not received any official information. Previously during the war we have always got early information of what happened at Adrianople from our Consul there, but at present, owing to the state of war between Bulgaria and Servia, the ordinary telegraphic service is not available and all telegrams have to come around by Odessa, which may account for the delay in having exact news. We do not, of course, in any way control the operations of the Red Cross Society, but I will see that my hon. Friend's words are conveyed to them. But I am rather inclined to think that they have already taken action and that an expedition has either already started or is about to start for Salonica in addition to the expeditions that they have sent to other places in the Balkans. At any rate it must be obvious to everyone that for some fortnight or so past the number of persons to be looked after in the neighbourhood of Salonica must have been very great, and I am sure that any aid that can be given by the Red Cross Society will be of inestimable service to that neighbourhood at the present time.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Two minutes, past Twelve o'clock.