HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1202-3
53. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many high-explosive bombs were used in operations against the "Torrey Canyon"; how many hit the ship or fell into the sea; and how many failed to explode either on the ship or in the sea.

Mr. Mason

171 high-explosive bombs and rockets were used against the "Torrey Canyon". The conditions prevailing made it impossible to count with any degree of certainty the number of misses and the number of bombs which did not explode.

Mr. Lipton

If that is the best information that we can get with hand-picked crews on an undefended target in reasonably good conditions, does it not look as if we are getting very poor value for our vast defence expenditure? Will my hon. Friend accept the proposition that it is time that somebody got a bowler hat for the lamentable Answer which he has just given?

Mr. Mason

That is a disgraceful reflection upon the efficiency of Her Majesty's forces. I should, in fairness, point out that two-thirds of the vessel was submerged and was seen only at low tide and, secondly, that after the initial strikes, it was covered with a thick pall of smoke and, consequently, it could not be seen whether there were direct hits or explosions.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Can the Minister give the cost of all the bombs which were dropped during the "Torrey Canyon" operation?

Mr. Mason