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Thursday, 7 May 1942

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) (Minister for the Army) - by leave - Yesterday the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked a question regarding the number of Australian soldiers engaged in. Java, Amboina and Timor, who had not been accounted for, and whether the next of kin had keen supplied with any particulars regarding them. I am now in a< position to advise the honorable member that it is not in the public interest to disclose information as to the number of Australian personnel still unaccounted for in these areas. The names of missing personnel, however, in accordance with advice sent from General Head-quarters to District Records Offices, are to be communicated to next-of-kin, and it is anticipated that, if letters of advice have not yet reached the next-of-kin they should arrivewithin the next few days. In the meantime, next-of-kin have been requested to forward particulars to General Headquarters of any information whatever which may be received by them from any source. It is hoped by this means to gain some information of value to supplement or verify the results of official investigations which arc being made.

Steps have also been taken to obtain statements from all personnel who have escaped from enemy-occupied territory, and this information also is communicated to District Records Offices for transmission to next-of-kin. Owing to the nature of the recent operations in the theatres of war in which these forces were engaged, and the difficulties which have arisen in connexion with units which are located in territory now held by the enemy, the utmost endeavour will continue to be made through every available channel, including the International Bed Cross, to obtain at the earliest possible moment definite reports which, when received, will be conveyed immediately to the next-of-kin by telegram.

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