HC Deb 05 February 1941 vol 368 cc932-5
44. Sir L. Lyle

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is still possible for friends to send parcels or money to individual officers or men who are prisoners of war; and, if so, how such proceeding is to be carried out?

Mr. Law

A personal parcel to an individual prisoner of war in Germany may be sent through the War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St. John once every three months. In addition, parcels of tobacco and cigarettes and of books and periodicals may be sent to individuals through firms who have permits for the purpose. I am sending my hon. Friend a leaflet giving full particulars. As regards money, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Hely-Hutchinson) on 30th January last.

Mr. Bossom

Cannot this leaflet be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

Mr. Law

Yes, Sir.

Captain McEwen

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that if a prisoner receives a parcel he does not go into a corner and consume it by himself; it causes great satisfaction to a whole group of men?

Following are the relevant passages from the leaflet mentioned:

"'Personal' Parcels for Prisoners in Enemy (or occupied) Countries.

12. Once every three months the next of kin of a prisoner in enemy territory is allowed to send him a 'personal' parcel. The parcel must not weigh more than 10 lb. when packed, so that when repacked it comes within the international limit of weight. Each parcel must bear a special tie-on label which will be sent periodically direct to the next of kin by the British Red Cross Society. The sender must fill in the label, which will then bear an address in the following form"—

Prisoner of War PERSONAL PARCEL.

Regtl. No. Prisoner of War No.

Rank Name


C/o British Red Cross Society & Order of St. John,

14, Finsbury Circus,

London, E.C.

The address must also be copied in ink on the cover of the parcel. Unless the parcel bears the special label, it will not be accepted at a Post Office. No postage is required. If the sender requires an acknowledgment of the receipt of the parcel at Finsbury Circus, a stamped addressed envelope should be enclosed.

13. Packing.—The parcels should be packed as for the inland post. The name and address of the sender must be clearly written on the cover of the parcel, except that if the sender is serving in His Majesty's Forces he must not write his own address but must give the address of a relative or friend and may request the relative or friend to forward any acknowledgments received in respect of the parcel. A duplicate list of the contents must be put inside the parcel; forms for this purpose are sent with the tie-on label by the British Red Cross Society.

14. Permissible Articles.—Among the articles which may be sent are the following:—

15. Prohibited Articles.—The following articles may not be enclosed:—

  1. (i) Written communications (letters must be sent separately).
  2. (ii) Printed matter.
  3. (iii) Pictorial illustrations and photo-graphs
  4. (iv) Money, stamps, stationery and playing cards.
  5. (v) Articles in tubes, tins and other receptacles, which cannot easily be opened for inspection.
  6. (vi) Spirits or solidified spirit for cooking stoves, matches or any other inflammable material.
  7. (vii) Food, tobacco, cigarettes.
  8. (viii) Photographic apparatus, field glasses, sextants, compasses, electric torches and other instruments of use for naval and military purposes.
  9. (ix) Medical comforts. This includes medicines of all kinds, drugs and bandages.
  10. (x) Complete suits, coloured or grey flannel trousers, sports coats or blazers, mackintoshes, or any kind of overcoat. (These items of clothing, however, may be sent to civilians.)

16. Return of Prohibited Articles.—On receipt of a personal parcel it will be repacked under the supervision of a representative of the Censorship, and any Prohibited articles will be withdrawn and returned to the sender."

31. Sir F. Sanderson (for Major-General Sir Alfred Knox)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has studied the possibility of conveying all prisoners of war letters by air-mail to and from Geneva?

Captain Waterhouse

Several proposals for improving the letter service to prisoners of war are being examined, including the suggestion mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend.

Sir W. Davison

How long does it take for a letter from this country to reach prisoner-of-war camps in Germany?

Captain Waterhouse

The time varies considerably from six to 10 or 12 weeks.