HC Deb 23 July 1934 vol 292 cc1513-4

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is yet in a position to make a full statement of the circumstances in which British officers were fired on by Turkish soldiers and a British officer killed?


The further information which has been received since I replied to my hon. Friend's question on the 17th July indicates that this tragic occurrence was the result of a lamentable misunderstanding. The skiff in which the officers approached close to the Turkish coast was flying no flag and the officers were not in uniform. According to the statement of the Turkish Government, the Turkish coastal patrols have strict orders to summon any suspect craft to be questioned, and in the present case beckoned to the boat to approach.

There is reason to think that the signal was misunderstood; at any rate, when the skiff moved away the Turkish guard repeatedly fired with the lamentable result that Surgeon-Lieutenant Robinson was killed and fell into the water. Lieutenant Maunsell was slightly wounded. Surgeon-Lieutenant Robinson's body has not yet been recovered.

The Turkish Ambassador, on instructions from his Government, has expressed his Government's very sincere regret that this tragic misunderstanding should have occurred, and the Turkish Government have informed His Majesty's Ambassador that they are deeply distressed at the occurrence. A funeral ceremony was held on Saturday in Turkish territorial waters, at which there were present His Majesty's Ship "Queen Elizabeth," flying the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, His Majesty's Ship "London," flying the flag of the Rear Admiral commanding the First Cruiser Squadron, and His Majesty's Ship "Devonshire," in which Surgeon-Lieutenant Robinson was serving.

By order of the Turkish Government a Turkish destroyer also took part and cast a wreath into the sea with an inscription expressing the sympathy and regret of the Turkish Government. The Turkish Government have also spontaneously expressed their desire to pay a compassionate grant to the relatives of the deceased officer.