Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport is calling on the Government to rebury the remains of British Royal Navy WW2 sailors that were disturbed and dumped in an anonymous mass grave in Indonesia.
Luke Pollard MP raised this issue in the House of Commons to the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadson MP, calling for urgent action on the issue. The Plymouth MP’s call follows reports last month that that the remains of British and Dutch Second World War sailors, that died in the Java Sea, have been dumped in an anonymous mass grave after metal scavengers raided former WW2 ship wrecks.
This is the latest incident in a disturbing trend over the last few years of ship wrecks being scavenged and all but removed off the coast of Indonesia by metal scavengers. It is estimated up to 40 Second World War-era vessels in the Java sea have already been partially or completely destroyed by this practice.
This includes the dismantling of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Electra, on which 119 men perished, HMS Encounter, and HMS Exeter, a 175-metre heavy cruiser on which 54 died, formerly based in Devonport Naval Base in the constituency Luke Pollard represents.
It is also reported that the Dutch Government, who have experienced similar incidents of plundered ship wrecks have taken steps to protect wrecks and recover remains, but the UK Government is yet to act.
Luke Pollard is calling on those who had relatives on HMS Exeter to get in touch, to push the Government on this issue and have the remains of war heroes buried with the respect and dignity that they deserve. He is also calling for war grave sites to be better monitored to prevent future disruptions taking place.
Luke Pollard MP says:
"I want to see the UK Government take urgent action to recover and rebury the remains of the Royal Navy sailors who died on HMS Exeter and HMS Electra. It cannot be right that Ministers have not acted to recover the remains of those who fell defending our freedom. To hear that their remains have been dumped in a mass grave sickens me and will horrify people across the country who rightly hold our nation's war dead in the highest esteem."
"While the Dutch Government is taking action to recover and protect the remains of the sailors on Dutch warships who died in the same area, I do not detect the same energy from the Foreign Office. While Brexit is important, the day job cannot be ignored. Those remains need to properly buried with the dignity and respect we afford all those who died in service to our country.”
"As the MP for Devonport, I am asking for relatives of those who died on HMS Exeter to come forward to help me in my campaign to see these sailors buried properly. I am very concerned that ships that went down in previous wars are being scavenged by metal thieves with a ship the size of HMS Exeter being worth nearly £1million in scrap metal.
“These wrecks are rightly protected by international law but if it is not being enforced they have no protection and no dignity. I am calling for urgent action so we can ensure those who died get the fitting burial they deserve. No fallen British sailor should have their remains dumped in unmarked mass graves in the 21st Century."
"The remains of Royal Navy sailors who died serving our country onboard HMS Exeter & HMS Electra are being buried in shallow, mass graves in East Java in Indonesia. The Dutch Government is acting in support of the Dutch sailors from lost warships but the UK Government is not.”
“Can we have an urgent debate on this issue, to make sure that we are taking every step to at least rebury our fallen sailors with the dignity and respect they deserve?"
Luke Pollard MP has written separately to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the War Graves Commission and the Indonesian Ambassador on this issue.