HC Deb 21 August 1916 vol 85 cc2239-41

asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that many postcards have been received from British prisoners, captured at Kut and now in the hands of the Turks in Angora, requesting that money, food, and clothing be sent to them; and whether he can give any indication of the best and safest means of sending these comforts from this country with a reasonable possibility of the prisoners receiving them?

Mr. JAMES HOPE (Treasurer of the Household)

A considerable number of postcards and letters from prisoners of war from the Kut Force, interned at Angora and other places in Asia Minor, requesting especially that money and clothing may be sent to them, have been communicated to us. The United States Embassy at Constantinople are sending clothing, money, and comforts to the prisoners as soon as their arrival at a camp is known. To supplement the supplies available at Constantinople, we have asked the Porte to allow a neutral vessel with all kinds of supplies required to put into a port on the coast of Asia Minor, the unloading of the ship and distribution of the supplies to be in the hands of neutrals. We have not yet had a reply to our communication, and are pressing for one. With regard to the last part of the question, parcels under 11 lb. in weight should be sent C/o Ottoman Red Crescent Society, Constantinople, and General Post Office, London. Parcels over that weight can be sent through the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, or the American Express Company. It is important that the rank and regiment of the prisoner and the place of internment should be clearly stated. When the place of internment is doubtful, parcels may be sent through the General Post Office or American Express Company (according to their weight), and the United States Embassy at Constantinople. It is inadvisable to send parcels to prisoners of war of whom no news has been received.


asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether parcels sent to British prisoners in Germany still reach those to whom they are addressed, or whether parcels sent to each camp are opened and their contents distributed among all the occupants; whether the supply of parcels is now regulated in England so as to ensure as far as possible an even distribution among the various camps; and whether he is satisfied that the contents of parcels do in fact reach British prisoners?


We have lately received several communications from the German Government stating, in reply to inquiries, the number of parcels delivered to individual British prisoners during a given period. We> have no information that parcels are not handed over to the addressees. The whole question of the dispatch of parcels to British prisoners of war is being considered by a Committee at the War Office. It has been found that parcels are unevenly distributed, and arrangements are being made which it is hoped will result in the regulation of the distribution. Our information is that the contents of parcels reach the prisoners as a rule. When complaints reach us as to the non-receipt of parcels at a particular camp the United States Ambassador at Berlin is requested to investigate the matter.


May we hope for an even distribution of parcels so that one man with a greater number of friends shall not receive a larger number while another not so fortunate will get none?


I understand that is exactly what is now being inquired into by the War Office Committee.


asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether it has yet been possible to make arrangements with Germany to accept the offer recently made by Denmark to give hospitality during the War to British and German wounded prisoners; and, if so, whether he can state when it is hoped that the first batch of British prisoners will arrive in Denmark, to what place they will be sent, and in what numbers?


I regret that I cannot at present add anything to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon on the 10th August in regard to this matter, which is still under consideration.