HC Deb 11 December 1945 vol 417 cc205-7
82. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that, on the liberation of Changi Jail Camp, Singa- pore, in August last, comprehensive lists of all those who had died in the camp were handed over to the British military authorities by the British personnel engaged regularly in the administration of the camp, but that in some cases the relatives of those whose names were in these lists have not yet been notified officially of their deaths and are only now learning of them informally from returning survivors; and if he will explain this delay.

79. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for War on what date the detailed records, compiled at Changi throughout the Japanese occupation, of men who were killed in action in Malaya in 1941–42, or who died of illness in captivity, left Singapore by air; on what date the detailed list of casualties during this same period for Thailand, left Thailand by air; when these records arrived in this country; and why the next-of-kin of casualties recorded in these lists were in some cases still without information as to the fate of their relatives on 27th November.

Mr. Lawson

As the answer necessarily deals with several points of detail, I will circulate it in the Official Report.

Mr. Driberg

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has really gone into this matter, because it has caused a great deal of distress among the relatives of the men concerned?

Mr. Lawson

Yes, Sir. I have given considerable attention to this matter.

Following is the answer:

Altogether, upwards of 400 lists of casualties have been received since the end of hostilities in the Far East, and without considerable inquiry I could not give the dates on which particular lists were despatched from Singapore or Thailand. The Changi records reached the War. Office on 16th November, having been preceded by numerous other individual and unit lists comprising much of the same information. All these lists have been or are still under examination at the War Office and very substantial progress has been made in notifying the next-of-kin. The lists vary very widely in their accuracy and in the details furnished, and in some cases considerable investigation is necessary before relatives can be informed. This, in conjunction with the large numbers involved, has affected to some extent the speed of notification. In the great bulk of cases next-of-kin have already been notified, and I hope to deal with most of the remainder in the very near future, but hon. Members will appreciate that official notification cannot be undertaken lightly where discrepancies exist, particularly when they may be capable of clearance by further investigation.