HC Deb 11 July 1867 vol 188 cc1391-2

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether he is in a position to give further information to the House as to the circumstance of the Troops coming up to Hounslow for the review, not receiving their rations till 4 o'clock in the afternoon of their march from Aldershot?


Since I was asked a Question on this subject on a former evening, I felt it my duty to institute a close inquiry into the circumstances to which the Question referred, which has deeply interested the public mind, and which cannot be considered creditable to the military service. I find that on the 25th of June a requisition which I now hold in my hand, was issued from the Quartermaster General's Department to the Deputy-Commissary General, intimating that a brigade of cavalry, with a military train, numbering about 1,200 men, would march from Aldershot to Hounslow, on Wednesday the 3rd of July. The requisition goes on to say— And it is requested that the necessary arrangements may be made for the issue of rations and forage to the men and horses during their stay at Hounslow Heath. I can only arrive at the conclusion that the Deputy Commissary-General, to whom this requisition was addressed, was the officer responsible to see that this requisition was carried out. In justice, I am bound to say that it has been occasionally, if not always, the practice that troops on the day of march should take with them provisions for that day. I am also bound to say that the officers connected with this brigade were not altogether free from, something like want of care. The General commanding the brigade decided upon marching at a very unusual hour; and I believe the officers commanding the regiments of which the brigade consisted might have received some portion of the provision which they required if they had taken care to apply for it. But I feel, on the other hand, that some one must be held responsible for the supply of rations to the troops. It would not do, in such a case, to say that one officer might have done this and another officer might have done that. Here was a requisition directed to the Deputy Commissary-General, requesting him on the 25th of June to provide for the accommodation of the troops on the 3rd of July—thereby giving him ample notice; and I hold that it was the duty of that officer to have made whatever inquiry was necessary for the purpose of carrying out those arrangements, and that if anything went wrong the responsibility must rest with him. I am convinced from the character of that officer there was nothing like intentional neglect; but, at the same time, it is absolutely necessary that proper care should be taken of the troops, and it is my intention to remove that officer from the London district.


asked whether this was the only accident that happened to the troops moved up to the Review, or whether there were other cases?


said, he had not heard of any other cases of neglect of the troops on their march to the Review.