HC Deb 01 December 1953 vol 521 cc928-9
4. Mr. Hale

asked the Secretary of State for War in what circumstances 56 mailbags containing approximately 250,000 undelivered letters from and to soldiers serving in Korea have been discovered at Singapore; and what action has been taken.

11. Mrs. White

asked the Secretary of State for War to make a statement about the letters mislaid at Singapore.

Mr. Head

The mail concerned was restricted to letters from or due for delivery to passengers in troopships. The number of letters delayed is not some 250,000, but is between 80 and 90 thousand. Special steps have been taken to supervise the delivery and collection of mails in troopships. The man alleged to be responsible is to be tried by court-martial.

Mr. Hale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Press announced that one non-commissioned officer has been detained in connection with the matter? Is he really telling the House that the superintendence of a pile of 80,000 to 90,000 letters which had been kept for some weeks is a matter within the sole responsibility of one non-commissioned officer? Will our Forces in the Far East be able to operate without this very useful man?

Mr. Head

I very much regret this incident in connection with this mail. At the moment it is the subject of a court-martial. As soon as that is over there will also be a court of inquiry, which has had to be suspended until the court-martial is over, because evidence cannot be given in two places at once. The man is attached to the civil Post Office in Singapore, and for this reason supervision comes from that organisation.

Mr. Mellish

Why not put the senior officers in the Army Postal Services on court-martial?

Mr. Head

That will arise.