The Cabinet discussed the burning of native villages by way of a reprisal for the murder of individual members of the British Forces at its meeting on 17 December 1945. Noel-Baker, the Minister of State, said that he had defended the action and that other cases had since been reported and that it appeared to be the policy of the Supreme Commander in South East Asia that native villages should be burnt by way of reprisals. He said that if the Government supported this action then it would be necessary to justify it.
The following extracts give a flavour of what was said in Cabinet:
In statement. last week I defended burning of a village.
Now S.A.C.S.E.A.´s policy to have like reprisals for like offences.
Major: a girl – swimming in village water supply.
Rpt. of a 3rd village being burned.
Will be said – Lidice over again.
Suggest. – either full statement in justification
or modify policy.
Taken from C.M. 63(45) - Meeting held on 17 December 1945.