HC Deb 27 October 1943 vol 393 cc163-4
9 and 10. Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what clauses were included in the Italian armistice terms to insist upon and facilitate the opportunity for escape of British prisoners of war known to be in camps within reach of German armed forces;

(2) whether he is aware that the commandant of the Bologna prisoner of war camp deliberately procrastinated in opening the gates and prevaricated with the senior British officer, with the result that the ultimate facilities for escape were useless in the face of German armed force; and whether he will have this Italian officer's name ascertained and noted?

Mr. Law

Article 3 of the Armistice with Italy signed on 3rd September, reads as follows: All prisoners or internees of the United Nations to be immediately turned over to the Allied Commander-in-Chief, and none of these may now or at any time be evacuated to Germany. As regards the prisoners of war camp at Bologna, information in my possession confirms that there was undue delay in opening the gates of this camp. I am taking steps to ascertain the name of the camp commandant.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, as a result of the failure on the part of the Italian officials, a very large number of British prisoners of war have been transferred to Germany, and can he hold out any hopes that some redress can be obtained?

Mr. Law

As I say, we are trying to ascertain the name of the camp commandant, who must have been acting contrary to the instructions of his Govern- ment, and I hope that in due course appropriate steps will be taken against him.

Mr. Bowles

Will His Majesty's Government publish, the full terms of the armistice, so that we may know all the details?

Mr. Law

That is another question.

Mr. Keeling

Has my right hon. Friend any information that other prison camp commandants behaved in a similar way?

Mr. Law

No, Sir.

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