HC Deb 14 February 1940 vol 357 cc740-1
18. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the continued machine-gunning of the crews of British trawlers and fishing-boats by enemy aircraft, he has taken adequate steps for their defence; and whether the question of reprisals or counter-measures has been considered?

Mr. Churchill

We are ceaselessly engaged in planning and putting into execution defensive measures and counter-measures; and these can only be judged by their results.

Mr. Shinwell

Would it be accurate to say that, whilst many vessels are at present manned with guns for their protection, the right hon. Gentleman hopes that within a month or six weeks every merchant vessel trading in the North Sea will be similarly protected?

Mr. Churchill

Yes, Sir. I have every hope that a very great measure of protection will be afforded to our men in this dangerous area, and I trust that it will be accomplished in a comparatively short time. Already a great deal has been done. Naturally, one could not have expected that kind of attack on unarmed and small vessels, but now it appears that every vessel must be effectively armed to resist murderous attacks.