HC Deb 22 July 1942 vol 382 cc29-30
39. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, to allay the anxiety caused to parents and relatives of prisoners of war taken by the Japanese, he can make a statement as to improved conditions of treatment and freedom from violence, based on evidence from escaped prisoners and from any other sources available?

Mr. Sandys

I regret that there is as yet little reliable information about the treatment of our prisoners of war by the Japanese. Such reports as have reached us from Hong Kong confirm the fact that atrocities took place at the time of the surrender. Whilst these appear to have ceased shortly afterwards, I am afraid that there is little doubt that for the first few months our prisoners suffered acutely from lack of medical attention. I understand that there was a severe outbreak of dysentery, and many cases of beri-beri. It appears that in the early months food consisted mainly of poor quality rice and soya beans, with very occasional issues of meat and vegetables. Conditions, however, seem after a time to have improved very considerably as the Japanese medical services were organised. Our information about Singapore is, I am afraid, even more incomplete. But the scanty evidence which has reached us suggests that for the greater part of this period the treatment of our prisoners has been more tolerable than at Hong Kong.

Sir J. Lucas

Is it not a fact that at Singapore the treatment has been better because the Japanese commander was an old Harrow boy?

Mr. Sandys

I will not comment on that.