HC Deb 09 March 1936 vol 309 cc1780-2
22. Mr. COCKS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give the House any information regarding the bombing of the British Red Cross hospital at Korem; and whether His Majesty's Government have made a protest to the Italian Government against this breach of international law?

24. Lieut.-Colonel Sir ASSHETON POWNALL

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information with regard to the bombing by the Italians of a British Red Cross ambulance?


On 5th March His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa telegraphed a message from Doctor Melly, the leader of the British Red Cross Ambulance in Northern Ethiopia, stating that the British ambulance was heavily and deliberately bombed at mid-day on 4th March while situated in the open on Korem Plain, two miles from the nearest troops. There was a Red Cross ground flag 40 feet square in the centre of the camp, and red crosses on the tents and the flagstaff. The operation, sterilisation and three ward tents were destroyed, as well as one lorry. Three patients were killed and several wounded. There were no casualties amongst the personnel. The aeroplane, according to the message, circled low over the camp nine times, dropping about 40 bombs, one of which fell on the ground flag. The message added that the camp had previously been observed many times at Waldia, Allamata and Korem by low-flying aeroplanes. It has subsequently been reported that the ambulance was again bombed on 5th March. On the receipt of the first telegram from His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa, His Majesty's Ambassador at Rome was instructed to lodge an immediate protest with the Italian Government on the facts as stated by Dr. Melly, and to make it plain that His Majesty's Government expect them to order an immediate investigation and, in the meantime, to issue the strictest instructions against a recurrence of this incident. In reply to this communication, Signor Suvich, while not prepared to admit the accuracy of Dr. Melly's report, nevertheless stated that an inquiry would be instituted, and that instructions would be issued to avoid a repetition of the incident. On receipt of the news that the second bombing inciden had taken place, my right hon. Friend instructed Sir E. Drummond to renew his representations in the strongest manner and to ask for an assurance that the necessary instructions had been issued and their receipt acknowledged by the Italian military authorities. The result of these further representations is not yet known.


Has the Noble Lord any information in regard to the death of Major Burgoyne, and has his attention been called to a statement in Saturday's "Times" by their special correspondent, who saw this episode, that the bombing was unquestionably deliberate?


That is a different question. Major Burgoyne was not serving with the British Red Cross ambulance unit.


Does the Noble Lord not think that the Assembly of the League is somewhat responsible for not stopping the oil that is supplied?