HC Deb 30 June 1919 vol 117 cc638-9W

asked the Secretary of State for War whether a reply has yet been received from the head of the British Military Mission in Berlin saying whether or no he requires further assistance in tracing the fate of British prisoners; and whether he is able to give assurance to the effect that the German War Office records of British prisoners will be systematically compared with the Copenhagen Index of the Central Prisoners of War Committee which has been sent to Berlin for the purpose and the names of men recorded in the former and not in the latter will be ascertained, and an exhaustive inquiry made into the fate of each man who may be discovered to have been a prisoner in Germany without his name having been reported as such to England?

Captain GUEST

With regard to the first part of the question, a letter has been received from the Chief of the British Military Mission to the effect that the staff is adequate to conduct all inquiries regarding British prisoners. With regard to the second part, the question of a systematic comparison of German and British records is under consideration. The Copenhagen Index is not, I understand a complete record, and names revealed by the comparison which my hon. and learned Friend suggests might very well be known to the "War Office from other sources. As regards the last part of the question, I regret I must emphasise the fact that there is no hope of any such men being found alive. The British Military Mission in Berlin have discovered only a very few cases of men who were prisoners in Germany, whose names were not known to the War Office. In all such cases so far reported by the Mission the men are known to have died, and they practically all died almost immediately after falling into German hands.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he can state whether Private Cecil S. Whiteley, No. 23872, D Company, 13th Platoon, l/8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was reported missing on 23rd March, 1918; whether, in October last, he was reported by the German Government to be a prisoner of war (unwounded) in Germany; whether no communications have been received from Private Whiteley since March, 1918; and what steps have been taken to trace Private Whiteley, and with what result?


The statements contained in the first two parts of my hon. and learned Friend's question are correct, except that the date mentioned in the second part is that on which the notification was sent from the Record Office. I regret that no further news has been received in the War Office. Private Whiteley's name is included in the list of prisoners of war unaccounted for which has been presented to the German Government. Inquiries are also being made in Berlin. No result has yet come to hand and I am afraid there can be no doubt, unfortunately, that Whiteley is dead. Any information which may be received will be communicated to the parents.