HC Deb 01 April 1941 vol 370 cc842-5
16. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any information regarding the shooting of an officer named Dees, of the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, in Oflag VII C/H?

Captain Margesson

Inquiries made through the Protecting Power have established that Lieutenant Dees was shot by a sentry while standing at a window of his camp, and died immediately. The shots were fired as a result of a camp regulation forbidding prisoners to lean out of the camp windows, with a view to preventing communication with the civil population. The Protecting Power have been requested to convey to the German Government on behalf of His Majesty's Government a most emphatic protest against the shooting of. Lieutenant Dees, and to press for the immediate cancellation of the order from which it arose, notifying the German Government at the same time that His Majesty's Government reserve all rights in respect of claims for monetary compensation on behalf of Lieutenant Dees' relatives. I would like to take this opportunity of expressing my deepest sympathy with the relatives in their tragic loss.

17. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, as it is acknowledged that, in many cases, British prisoners of war in Germany are not given adequate clothing by the German Government, and since many next-of-kin in this country, some of them refugees from bombed areas, cannot afford to send the four clothing parcels per year, the British Red Cross will undertake the responsibility for dispatching to all our men in Germany, by July at latest, socks, cardigans and underwear, to reach the camps before next winter sets in; and what other steps does he contemplate to this end?

19. Sir W. Davison

asked the Secretary of State for War what provision has been made for the distribution of woollen comforts to prisoners of war whose next-of-kin are not in a position to send personal parcels or whose personal parcels have been lost or destroyed in transit; and whether immediate steps will be taken to send warm clothing to every prisoner of war for the coming winter, in view of the long time which must elapse before any such clothing reaches the various camps?

Captain Margesson

Large quantities of woollen clothing have already been sent to the International Red Cross Committee, both from this country and from various allied and neutral countries, for distribution to all British prisoners of war, irrespective of whether such articles have been sent by the next-of-kin. These include 189,938 pairs of socks, 106,108 sets of underclothing, and 62,392 pullovers. Consignments of replacement clothing will be despatched shortly, and arrangements are now being made by the International Red Cross Committee to build up a reserve at Geneva, from which clothing can be despatched at once to any camp where it is required.

Sir A. Knox

Can we rely on arrangements being made whereby every prisoner of war will be provided with sufficient warm clothing, apart from what his relatives may be able to send him, before winter sets in?

Captain Margesson

That is why we are building up these reserves in Geneva.

Sir W. Davison

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend satisfied that these reserves will reach the various camps before the winter? Will he bear in mind the terrible suffering of prisoners of war during last winter as a result of the delay in distribution in the camps?

Captain Margesson

I am doing my best to secure that end.

18. Professor Savory

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, according to the latest information, medical officers detained in camp Stalag XXA, in spite of the Geneva Convention, are suffering from having only one blanket in a temperature of 20 degrees below zero; whether he will make representations to the German authorities, through the protecting Power, to provide extra blankets and also the necessary remedies for the destruction of the lice described as ubiquitous; and, in view of the fact that while there is a cobbler's shop there is no leather and it is necessary for these officers to have repairs done to their boots, he will endeavour to arrange that leather shall be provided?

Captain Margesson

Representations have been made to the German Government on both the points referred to in the first and second parts of the Question. As regards the last part, I am informed that there is a general shortage of leather in Germany and that in some cases wooden soles are being used as a substitute. 97,125 pairs of boots have, however, been sent to the International Red Cross Committee for distribution to British prisoners of war, and I understand that there has recently been a considerable improvement in the state of footwear in the camps. A further consignment of boots is at present on its way from this country.

Professor Savory

Has any protest been made against giving these officers only one blanket at a time when the temperature is 20 degrees below zero?

Captain Margesson

I have no information about that.

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