HC Deb 04 August 1919 vol 119 cc30-1
75. Mr. R. McNEILL

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the search of German records which was proceeding on the 26th of May to ascertain the fate of missing British soldiers has yet been completed; if so, with what result; whether any officers or men recorded as missing in casualty lists have been traced as having been prisoners of war in Germany; if so, whether any such men have survived; what steps have been taken to make sure that no hitherto untraced prisoners of war are still alive in enemy countries, including Turkey; and whether a reward has been offered for the discovery of any such prisoners who may still be alive and untraced?

Captain GUEST

The Military Mission in Berlin, which has been at work for the greater part of this year, has not yet completed its labours, and will not be able to do so for some time. The result, so far, is that a few names, which we had recorded as missing only, have been discovered as dead in the German records, and the Mission have reported that it appears from their investigations that there are very few cases of men who were prisoners in Germany whose names were not known to the War Office. No such men have been found alive. In order that no stone may be left unturned, a complete list of the missing is now being sent to Berlin for comparison with the German records, but it is feared that this will lead to very little, if any, result In the East and in Italy, after the Armistice, steps were taken to examine all returning prisoners for any information they might have regarding the missing, and a considerable amount of information was so obtained. Wherever there was evidence of officers or men having been in enemy hands, this was referred for special investigation. Lists of the missing are to be sent to the military authorities in Austria and Bulgaria for comparison with enemy records, and also to Constantinople if the military authorities there consider it feasible to undertake such a comparison. It is feared, however, that there is no possibility of there being any untraced prisoners who are still alive. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative. After full consideration, it was thought better policy not to offer awards.