HC Deb 27 February 1945 vol 408 cc1222-4
9. Captain Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can make a further statement on the position of British prisoners of war in areas in Eastern Europe already overrun by the Russian armies or in the battle areas.

17. Mr. Tinker

asked the Secretary of State for War the total number of prisoners of war to the latest date possible that have been liberated through the Allies occupying enemy territory; and how many of them have reached this country.

36. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War if arrangements can be made to enable members of the British Military Mission in Moscow to be attached to the headquarters of Russian armies operating in Eastern Germany, in order to assist such British prisoners of war as may escape from German camps.

Sir J. Grigg

I have had no further information of liberated prisoners of war since that given in answer to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) on Thursday last. The Soviet authorities are giving facilities for officers from our Military Mission in Moscow to visit the camp near Lublin where our prisoners are awaiting transfer to Odessa. Officers from the Mission are also on their way to Odessa. Arrangements have been completed to strengthen the staff of the Military Mission considerably in order to ensure that sufficient liaison officers are available to assist the Soviet authorities in looking after our men.

Captain Gammans

Can my right hon. Friend say if considerable numbers of prisoners of war are likely to be released in this way?

Sir J. Grigg

I honestly cannot answer that question. The first sentence of my answer meant that I have no specific information except about the 2,500 mentioned in a previous answer.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Can my right hon. Friend explain why so few prisoners have been reported as having been overtaken by the Russians, considering the large number of prisoner of war camps that have been overrun in Eastern Germany?

Sir J. Grigg

I think that the main explanation must be, as I have tried to explain in other answers in this House, that the Germans have been moving prisoners of war from the forward camps further back into Germany, and have been doing so under conditions which involve a good deal of hardship to our men.

Mr. S. O. Davies

Is it not possible to give names and descriptions of these released prisoners of war, for the benefit of parents, wives and other relations?

Sir J. Grigg

The head of the Military Mission in Moscow announced last night that as soon as they got to Odessa, their names would be collected and telegraphed home.

Mr. Tinker

If information comes to the right hon. Gentleman will he make it known to the House so as to let us know exactly what is happening?

Sir J. Grigg

That is my intention—to give the House all the information that comes into my hands.