HC Deb 22 March 1955 vol 538 c167W
77. Mr. Albu

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement on the barn fire in Austria in which a number of British soldiers of the Middlesex Regiment lost their lives or were injured.

Mr. F. Maclean

This fire occurred at about 1 p.m. on 11th March in a large barn near Mattighofen about 40 miles from Salzburg in the American Zone of Austria where "C" Company of the Middlesex Regiment were sleeping at the end of a four-days United States Army exercise in which they had taken part. As a result, one officer and three other ranks died and eight other ranks were injured. I am sure that the House will wish to express deep sympathy with their relatives.

Determined and courageous efforts were made by all concerned, including the Austrian civil authorities, to rescue the men trapped in the barn as quickly as possible. My right hon. Friend wishes to pay tribute to all those concerned in the rescue, and particularly to the American Army who flew the casualties by helicopter immediately to their hospitals at Salzburg and Linz and showed the greatest kindness to parents who visited their sons there.

Inquiries into the accident cannot be completed until the injured men are fit to give evidence and hon. Members, will appreciate that I, therefore, cannot yet give a report on the circumstances which caused the fire.