HC Deb 10 December 1947 vol 445 cc984-5
12. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many officers and men of the R.A.F. who were reported as missing or prisoners of war, and are believed to have been in Germany or Poland remain untraced; and what steps are now being taken to search for them.

Mr. Henderson

About 9,000 members of the R.A.F. who were reported missing in Europe remain untraced. Most of these were lost over North-West Europe, including Germany and Poland, but it is not possible to say how many were lost in each country. It is estimated that a further 12,000 were lost over the sea, and it is unlikely that positive evidence of their fate will now be discovered. R.A.F. Missing Research Units are still at work in Germany and other European countries, but to my regret permission to go into Poland has not yet been obtained. In the last six months these units have accounted for nearly 2,000 officers and men whose deaths could previously only be presumed; altogether, about 18,000 have now been traced. All members of the R.A.F. who were posted as prisoners of war have been traced, with two exceptions.

Mr. Turton

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what steps he is taking to persuade the Polish Government to allow research units to enter Poland?

Mr. Henderson

I should prefer that question to be put down on the Order Paper.

Mr. Eden

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that, towards the conclusion of the war we made very full reciprocal agreements with all our Allies to help them to trace their missing, in return for which they would help us to trace our missing? I think the House would feel it indefensible that an Ally should refuse us this very reasonable concession.

Mr. Molson

Is Poland the only country which refuses to allow these units to penetrate into its territory?

Mr. Henderson

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Parkin

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there is a Norwegian War Graves Commission working in Poland; and, therefore, ought there to be any insuperable objection to one going from our country?

Mr. Henderson

The objection is not coming from this end.