HC Deb 08 February 1944 vol 396 cc1604-5
13. Mr. Bartle Bull

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider changing the official notification to the next-of-kin of wounded serving men so that it will show whether the wound was sustained in action and where further information can be obtained.

Sir J. Grigg

In practice the terms, "wounded," and, "wounded in action," in notifications to the next-of-kin, mean the same thing, as the expression, "in action," has been interpreted widely as covering certain casualties in the field, such as accidents with land-mines, not sustained in the course of actual engagement with the enemy. The telegram from the theatre of operations notifying that an officer or man has been wounded does not as a rule give any further particulars and until these arrive there is, I fear, no source in this country from which further information can be immediately obtained. When further information is received, it is automatically transmitted to the next of-kin as soon as possible.

Mr. Bull

Surely there should be some source in the Mediterranean from which information can be more readily obtained as to whether the wound is serious or slight?

Sir J. Grigg

I have not the slightest doubt that that would be possible in certain cases, but I do not think it is possible where operations are going on continuously.

Sir A. Knox

Surely it ought to be possible to send a second notification. Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have had sent to me a case of a constituent whose husband was wounded last September and who has had no information as to where he is?

Sir J. Grigg

I do not, at the moment, recollect that particular case, but I have no doubt that in the conditions prevailing in the Mediterranean, as I have explained before, the arrangements for notifying casualties are not always up to date. I think there is a good deal of difficulty, owing to the rapidly changing scene of operations, in which the arrangements suitable at one time are not entirely suitable for another, until they have been brought up to date.

19. Lieut.-Colonel Wickham

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the terms wounded and wounded in action, used in communications to next-of-kin, indicate slight wounds; and whether, in the absence of further particulars, no news is good news.

Sir J. Grigg

The answer to the first part of the Question is No, Sir. If the degree of severity of a wound is not stated, it cannot be inferred that it is necessarily slight. But if, as a result of his wound, an individual becomes seriously or dangerously ill, a further telegraphic communication is despatched from the theatre of operations, and the fact is notified to the next-of-kin.

Lieut.-Colonel Wickham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a mistaken impression abroad that the term "wounded in action" means something graver than merely "wounded"?

Sir J. Grigg

I was under the impression that the fact that it did not contain any indication of severity had led to the opposite impression. I hope this Question and answer will put the position right.