Letter to Donald Baker's parents from the office of the high commissioner for Southern Rhodesia



Letter to Donald Baker's parents from the office of the high commissioner for Southern Rhodesia


Provides explanation for mistaken report that Donald had died. Source of mistake was a signal quoting Red Cross cable that he had died. When this was queried, Red Cross confirmed with German authorities that he was alive and well. Details subsequent actions. Reports parcels on the way, delighted he was safe and apologies.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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[underlined] CONFIRMING COPY [/underlined]
7th October, 1942.
Mr. and Mrs. C. Baker,
Southern Rhodesia.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Baker,
I feel that now everything has been cleared up regarding Donald I should explain to you just what happened.
As you know a signal was received from R.A.F. Headquarters, Middle East quoting International Red Cross Cable B.1808 (which transmits to German information) reporting that your son, Pilot Officer Donald Baker, a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft 111, had died, and the date of death was not given in this cable. I was not satisfied but I had to communicate the information to the Prime Minister, and the Air Ministry also the Red Cross had no option but to act on the information received from the German Authorities. However, as I say, I was not satisfied and I insisted upon Geneva making further enquiries and I requested them to send full details to me. Geneva cabled back and said that according to their records Donald was alive. I then cabled once more and asked them to ascertain from the Camp whether Donald was alive or not and to let me have this information as soon as possible because it was very urgent. To this request I received a further cable from Geneva saying that enquiries had been made and that Berlin had reported that Donald was in the best of health. I cabled this information to the Prime Minister and asked him to advise you immediately.
Shortly after this I received a card from Donald himself and this confirmed in my own mind that the previous reports were certainly not correct.
Apart from all this as soon as I received the first cable I communicated with Rhodesian prisoners of war in Donald’s camp asking them to despatch to me air mail letters stating whether Donald was alive or else forward to me full details as to how he had died.
However the card from Donald himself cleared up the whole matter and I then started to send his next-of-kin parcels again. In any case there was no break in the parcels, and I hope that he has received them all by now. Already he has acknowledged several from me and one included a blanket which he asked for and one from you.
[page break]
There are quite a number of parcels on the way and a further one will be despatched in a few days time. I wrote Donald a letter myself on the 25th August, but as yet have not had a reply to it.
Needless to say I am delighted that he is safe and I am only so very sorry that you both should have suffered unnecessary anxiety. I assure you that it was through no fault on my part.
I would have written this letter to you earlier but I wanted to be absolutely certain of my facts before communicating with you.
As you no doubt know from Donald’s various relations in England I am looking after him and sending parcels from this office.
Also I have kept all his relations in England advised and I am sure that they will probably have passed this information on to you.
If I can be of any further help please do not hesitate to write to me.
With kind regards.
Yours sincerely,


Office of the High Commissioner for Southern Rhodesia, “Letter to Donald Baker's parents from the office of the high commissioner for Southern Rhodesia,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 7, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/25679.

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