HC Deb 07 March 1940 vol 358 c554
45. Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

asked the Prime Minister whose is the responsibility for attacking low-flying aircraft which machine-gun the merchant navy and trawlers?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

Protection against air attack is afforded partly by fighter aircraft and partly by guns, either mounted in the ships themselves, in escorting vessels, or on shore in defended ports and estuaries. The responsibility is thus a joint one, and special arrangements have been made to ensure the closest co-operation between the three Services in dealing with attacks of this kind.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

Can this co-operation be made much closer than it has been in the past?

The Prime Minister

I do not think it could be closer than it is now.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Prime Minister aware that seamen who have been attacked by low-flying enemy aircraft have alleged to me personally that our own aircraft have been seen while the attack has been proceeding, and that they have not been assisted in any way—that there has been a lack of co-operation?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that can be attributed to any lack of co-operation, but, obviously, it is difficult to find a particular aircraft when it comes over by itself.