HC Deb 01 August 1944 vol 402 cc1180-1W
Mr. Loverseed

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he will inquire into the circumstances, of which he has been informed, under which 14562590, Gunner D. G. Cooper was transferred at frequent intervals from one regiment to another; and why he was transferred, at short notice, to duties for which he had not been adequately trained;

(2) why the parents of 14562590 Gunner D. G. Cooper have received no official notification from his Department of any casualty despite the fact that in a letter to the parents dated 24th June and received by them on 18th July, this soldier's company commander sympathises with them on the death of their son in action in Normandy on 10th June.

Sir J. Grigg

After the completion of his primary training this man was posted to the Royal Artillery, where he spent eight months. Then, owing to the shortage of infantrymen, he was transferred to an infantry regiment. He trained as an infantryman for five months. In the course of this period he was attached to another infantry regiment in a reinforcement and training division. It is possible that this was necessary because he was then insufficiently trained. He went to Normandy in a reinforcement draft and was posted to one of the infantry regiments there. These transfers are avoided whenever possible, but hon. Members will appreciate that with the best will in the world it is impossible to keep pools of reinforcements in every operational theatre large enough to ensure that a soldier shall only be posted to a unit of his own regiment. It is probable that when he met his death two days later he was employed on duties akin to the gunner duties with which he was already familiar and I cannot accept the statement that he was inadequately trained.

The official notification of the death of this soldier in action was sent to his next-of-kin on 27th July. This delay resulted from the fact that his documents had not reached the authorities administering his new regiment at the time the casualty notifications were received by them. It was consequently necessary to make inquiries to establish the soldier's correct details before transmitting the notification of death to his next-of-kin. Even so, however, I am not satisfied that these inquiries were made as quickly as they might have been, and I am having further investigations made into the case. I very much regret the delay and the distress which it has caused the soldier's relatives.