HC Deb 19 July 1944 vol 402 cc191-2
59. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any approximate estimate of the number of French civilians killed and injured during the present operations; what steps have been taken to reassure the French people that everything has been done to avoid needless loss of life; and whether effective air-raid precautions are now being provided.

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

The figures of casualties suffered by the French civilian population are as yet incomplete. In Caen about 2,000 were killed and 1,300 are in hospital. As regards air operations, prior warning was given to the inhabitants in military areas by dropping leaflets which indicated that bombing was to take place. The Air Forces were also instructed to exercise all possible care to avoid civilian casualties. The answer to the last part of the Question is, "Generally speaking, Yes, Sir."

Mr. Sorensen

Did not "The Times" state that the figure was 5,000 killed, and are the Minister's figures therefore correct in view of that statement? Will steps be taken to protect civilians in towns from German bombing?

Mr. Henderson

As regards the first part of the question, I can only assume that my answer is correct and that the hon. Member's information is incorrect. In regard to the second part, I think I indicated that, as far as possible, warning was given when air operations were to take place.

Professor Savory

Have these civilians been informed that Ulster is longing to welcome them?