HC Deb 04 August 1942 vol 382 c833
19. Mr. Spearman

asked the Secretary of State for War why the announcement of a soldier's death on active service overseas is made to the next-of-kin of officers by telegram and of men by a form B 104 82B; and, if so, will he see that in future it is communicated by telegram or suitably worded letter?

Sir J. Grigg

At times when casualties are heavy the numbers would make it impossible to notify the deaths of soldiers either by specially typed letter or telegram, without considerable delay or overloading of the telegraph service, and it is desirable that the same procedure should be followed whether casualties are few or many. The number of officers' deaths, however, is at Ho one time so great as to make use of the telegraph impracticable.

Mr. Spearman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present arrangements very often cause unnecessary distress; has he not heard of instances where next-of-kin receive a printed form which they think is of no importance and only later in the day find out that it is a notification of death, and would not some other arrangement, if not by telegram by some special, distinguishable letter, be better so that it would be possible for near relatives to have the news broken more gently?

Sir J. Grigg

I will certainly consider whether it is possible to mark the communication in some way so as to signify its importance, but if I were to adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member either to telegraph or to send a typed letter, there would at times of heavy casualties be very great delays in the notification of casualties to relatives, and I think that a delay in the notification would be a -worse evil than the other.