HC Deb 16 November 1960 vol 630 cc40-1W
60. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement on the presentation to the Western German Army of a Panzer tank captured during the Second World War; whether the statement by an Army spokesman, that the object of the gift is to help in the foundation of a new Panzer tradition, was made with his authority; and if, in view of the concern caused by the fact that the Nazi swastika is being repainted on this tank, he will delay this presentation until Parliament has had an opportunty of expressing an opinion on it.

Mr. Profumo

In May, 1959, the trustees of the Tank Museum at Bovington were asked through diplomatic channels to give back one of two German tanks as a museum piece for the German Army. The Committee of Management of the Museum, with the consent of the War Office, acceded to this request. The tank is to go to the equivalent of R.A.C. Bovington in Germany. It was felt that compliance with the German request could do nothing but good to relations between two allies.

The remarks attributed to an Army spokesman were made by the Curator of the Museum. They were not authorised and as they appeared in print were an inaccurate gloss on the reasons for meeting the German request. The tank had been standing in the open for some years and had to be sprayed with paint to make it presentable. The Afrika Corps sign, a palm tree with the swastika incorporated, was therefore put back on.