HC Deb 04 July 1928 vol 219 cc1367-8

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that, notwithstanding repeated applications to the Air Ministry by the father of Lieut. John Nicholson, Royal Navy, who was killed at Malta on 25th June while flying off His Majesty's ship "Courageous," no information can be obtained by him of the circumstances; that no communication was made to him on the recovery of the body nor of the funeral of the deceased officer, which took place at Malta on 27th June with naval honours, and consequently the relatives were unable to be represented at the funeral; and whether he will now give instructions that in similar instances in future full information may be conveyed to relatives without delay?


The fatality occurred on the 25th June, and on the same day was notified by telegram and letter, with an expression of profound sympathy on behalf of the Air Council and myself, to the officer's wife, whose name was recorded as that of his next-of-kin. When his father made telephonic inquiries he was informed that any further particulars received at the Air Ministry would at once be communicated to him, and this has since been done. It is not the practice to require units overseas to telegraph prior notification of the funeral, as in practically no case could the relatives attend. I deeply regret that Major Nicholson should feel that he had cause for complaint in regard to the notification of the death of his gallant son. but, inasmuch as the accident was, as I have stated, notified on the actual day of its occurrence to the next-of-kin, as recorded by the officer himself, and it is the standing practice to give all available information to the known relatives at the earliest possible moment, I do not think any further special instructions are called for.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that the widow, to whom notice of the death was given on 25th June, up to last Sunday night had no information that the body of her husband had been recovered and was buried?


We gave the widow the fullest information we had as soon as we could. I will look into the suggestion made by my hon. Friend, and, if we can send her at once any further information, we certainly will do so.