HC Deb 24 January 1940 vol 356 cc563-4
29. Sir William Davison

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether his attention has been called to what is becoming the invariable practice of the German Mercantile Marine as well as the German Navy, to scuttle their ships in order to evade capture, as they rely on the British Navy to save and land their crews, notwithstanding the fact that their shipwreck was deliberately caused by their own act; and whether, having regard to the loss of captured tonnage thereby caused to the Allies, notice will be given to Germany that in future Great Britain cannot be responsible for saving the lives of the officers and men of German ships whose predicament has been deliberately caused by their own action?

Captain Hudson

I am aware that it is the regular practice of the crews of German merchant vessels to attempt to scuttle their ships to avoid capture. Special orders have been given to His Majesty's ships with a view to frustrating these attempts.

Sir W. Davison

Is my hon. Friend aware that in many cases the crews of these scuttled ships get to their boats and are picked up with their belongings carefully packed, showing how deliberate the whole thing is and how they expect their luggage, as well as themselves, to be safely landed in a British port?

Vice-Admiral Taylor

I hope this is not a suggestion which will be carried out.

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