HC Deb 20 December 1915 vol 77 c57
76. Mr. R. McNEILL

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the Censorship regulations for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force forbid reference in postal matter to casualties previous to the publication of the official lists; if so, whether he is aware that the effect of this regulation is to prevent officers and men sending to the relatives of comrades accounts of the manner of their death or reassuring reports as to the condition of the wounded until two or even three months after the occurrence of the casualties; whether he is aware that the alleged justification for the regulation, namely, to prevent untrustworthy information about casualties being sent home, is regarded by the men serving in the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force as a pretext without foundation; and whether, in view of the fact that even if such untrustworthy information were contained in private letters it could be of no service to the enemy, he will abolish this regulation, which imposes a privation on the relatives of killed and wounded soldiers and interferes with the freedom of private correspondence?


The Regulation referred to calls attention to the prohibition contained in the Field Service Regulations with regard to references to the moral or physical condition of the troops and to casualties previous to the publication of official lists. I am satisfied that this Regulation is a necessity, and I am informed that it is not used to stop reassuring reports as to the condition of the wounded. Statements, however, that "the casualties were enormous," or that "in one company only fifteen men came out of it," are and should be stopped; and the same holds good in regard to hearsay statements regarding individuals. Reports of this latter kind are found in many instances to be inaccurate, and additional and needless anxiety is thus caused to relatives. The hon. Gentleman will see that the Regulations are interpreted in the sense he desires.