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Thursday, 27 June 1946


Mr WHITE (Balaclava) (12:15 PM) . - I rise to answer an interjection made by an honorable member opposite to the effect that no inquiry was instituted by the British Government with respect to the Malayan campaign. Not a single Minister has attempted to provide an answer in this matter which' concerns the families of many Australians who lost their lives: A strong request has been made for an inquiry; and a precedent exists for the institution of such an inquiry. The greatest disaster suffered by the British Army prior to Singapore was the loss of an army of 13,000 men in Mesopotamia in 1916. Of that army only 3,000 men came out of captivity. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has suggested that any inquiry might embrace an investigation into the whole of the Malayan campaign. I suggest that an inquiry he held into the disasters at Ambon and Rabaul. M.any Australian soldiers who were lost at Ambon have not been traced. It is alleged that many civilians who lost their lives at Rabaul could have been withdrawn had instructions been . received from the Minister for External Territories at that time. Whether that is true, I do not know; but that statement was made to me by the father of one of the men who lost his life. There is an urgent need for an inquiry. The British Government ordered an inquiry into the Mesopotamia disaster to which I . have referred, and sheeted home the blame to those responsible. I clearly recall that inquiry because I was one of the victims of the disaster.







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