HC Deb 07 December 1943 vol 395 cc759-60
26. Sir William Davison

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that many of the personal possessions of soldiers killed in action are being sold instead of being sent home to their next of kin; and whether all possible steps will be taken to restore to the next of kin all such personal possessions of soldiers killed in action?

Sir J. Grigg

The Regimental Debts Act, 1893, authorises the sale of a deceased soldier's property at the discretion of the local military authorities. The sum realised is credited to the man's account. But in the case of a soldier there is seldom a sale. Articles of intrinsic and sentimental value such as watches, spectacles, wallets, photographs and letters are sent home when it is possible to recover them and despatch them. In a theatre of war soldiers rarely have with them other personal belongings, but if they have they too are usually sent home and forwarded to the next-of-kin.

Sir W. Davison

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the heartbreaking letters which Members are receiving from wives and parents of soldiers who have lost their lives and have been informed that the personal effects have been sold saying that no amount of cash could be worth the things they have carried with them to the war and which they have loved?

Sir J. Grigg

If that is the case, it is contrary to the desire of the War Office, and if my hon. Friend will give me specimens of these cases, I will certainly take the matter up.