20. Mr. J. Henderson
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it is the practice when seamen lose their lives in the performance of their naval duties and whose bodies are subsequently recovered in this country, to convey the bodies to the home station of the men, free of charge to their relatives; and why such practice was not carried out in the case of Seaman Reed of Carlisle, particulars of which case have been forwarded to him?
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (Sir Victor Warrender)
When it is possible to meet the relatives' wishes in this matter, the cost of conveyance is borne by the Admiralty. I am afraid, however, that under war conditions it is often impracticable for bodies of deceased naval personnel to be sent home for private burial. There are transport and administrative difficulties, and sometimes immediate interment is necessary. Able Seaman Reed's body was recovered in Cornwall, and the naval authorities had no option in this case but to arrange immediately for local burial. Free travelling facilities to enable them to visit the grave have been offered to his parents.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the refusal of the Admiralty to allow the body to be brought home for burial has caused a great deal of bitter comment in the locality?
§ Sir V. Warrender
I hope that my hon. Friend will do what he can to appease those sentiments. This was a very special case. It was quite impossible to forward the body for burial at home; it had to be interred as soon as possible.
Did not the Department agree to exhume the body and send it home if the relatives would pay for the transport?