HC Deb 01 July 1919 vol 117 cc750-1

asked the Secretary for War if he recognises the urgent necessity of expediting the work of the concentration of the. graves of British soldiers in France and Belgium, as also the desirability of additional efforts being made to locate and identify the remains of those who were buried without any marks of identification; and if for this most necessary work he will arrange for a substantial addition to the number of men at present employed in France and Belgium for this object?

Captain GUEST

The importance and urgency of the work of concentration and location of the scattered and isolated graves of our soldiers in France and Belgium is fully recognised. Fifteen thousand additional men for this particular work have recently been enlisted, of whom about 5,000 have already proceeded, to France and the remainder will follow as soon as possible. It is considered that this number will enable the work to be completed in a satisfactory manner, without undue delay. Should it, however, be found desirable still further to increase the staff, the matter shall have my careful consideration.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that an enormous number of the graves in France and Belgium are in the most deplorable condition, and will he give his attention to it?

Captain GUEST

The Graves Commissioners are fully aware of the condition of affairs in France and Flanders, and are doing their very utmost.


Is any record being kept by the War Office of these graves?

Captain GUEST

Yes, a most careful record.

42. Mr. T. THOMSON

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will recommend the Government to refuse to allow ordinary tourists to visit the battlefields and graveyards of France and Belgium until it is possible to permit the relatives of all those who have fallen and been buried overseas to visit their graves?


I regret that my hon. Friend's proposal is not considered feasible. I may say that the War Office is no longer placing any restrictions on the visits of relatives, except that they are requested not to go to the areas in which the work of concentration is actually taking place, but to defer their visit to such places till the work is completed.