HC Deb 21 July 1876 vol 230 cc1698-700

I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in pursuance of private Notice, Whether he will state to the House what has been the conduct of the North Cork, the South Cork, and Galway Regiments of Militia, now in camp at Aldershot, and respecting which some disparaging statements have appeared in The Times newspaper?


I am much obliged to the hon. Member for asking a Question upon the subject, as it happens that a good deal has been said about it, and a great amount of misconception has arisen respecting the conduct of the Militia regiments. If the House will allow me, I will read a letter addressed to the Inspector General of Reserve Forces by the general officer in command. In consequence of the statement which appeared in The Times, a telegram was sent to this officer, and I will now read his reply— Camp, Aldershot, July 20, 1876. Dear Wolseley—Your telegram just received, I have read the article in The Times to which you refer, and am very glad to have the opportunity of refuting the charge of misbehaviour and riotous conduct against the Irish Brigade while encamped at Horsham. It is a fact that I telegraphed to the General Officer commanding the 3rd Division, 2nd Corps, at or near Dorking, and that in that message I suggested that the troops of Hussars which were billeted in Horsham, on the march from Hampton Court to Brighton, should be retained for a day or two as a measure of precaution under the following circumstances:—On Friday, the 14th, the Galway Regiment of Militia arrived at my camp. On the 15th, Saturday, the North and South Cork Regiments arrived. I issued orders that the rule laid down in Her Majesty's Regulations, relating to soldiers not being permitted to go beyond one mile from camp would be in force, and that the town of Horsham was 'out of bounds.' It is very doubtful if these orders were thoroughly made known to the men of the several regiments. Small pickets were sent out to patrol the roads in the vicinity of the Camp at 'Retreat'(sunset). One of these pickets on the direct road to Horsham attempted to turn back a party of Militiamen bent on going into the town; and when their numbers became considerable, they or a portion of them passed through the picket, and a mounted policeman (military) came at once to camp and reported the facts. Pickets of 50 men, under an officer, were sent at once under the field officer of the day, who reported to me on his return that although he found a considerable number of men in Horsham, they all returned to camp at once, without opposition on their part, and that nothing approaching riot or disturbance occurred during the night. Feeling assured that exaggerated reports would be spread abroad, I determined to telegraph to the General commanding the Division to that effect, and saying that 'nothing serious had occurred; 'but as I was aware that the fair was to beheld in Horsham on the Tuesday and Wednesday following, it occurred to me to suggest that as a precaution the troop of Hussars might well remain for a day or two. The event has proved that precautions were entirely unnecessary, and I assert, with immense satisfaction, that no troops, not the highest disciplined Regulars, could have conducted them selves more admirably than the North Cork, South Cork, and Galway Regiments of Militia did during their period of encampment at Horsham and up to the present moment. The Brigade marched from Guildford this morning to this camp, after a rail journey, the whole to my entire satisfaction. I mention this circumstance in corroboration of my statement regarding the good order and good feeling that has prevailed. It is due to the able and excellent officers who commanded these regiments that I should make as full an explanation as possible of what has been so grossly misrepresented. Although I may hope that what appears here may remove any doubt regarding the good behaviour of the regiments of my brigade, and assist in correcting opinions formed or misrepresentations, anything I have said will be weak in compari- son with a letter which I hope will reach Mr. Hardy in sufficient time from the Special Commissioners and magistrates of Horsham, Colonel Aldridge, of St. Leonard's Park, Mr. Dickens, and others, who intimated to me their intention of addressing the Secretary of State for War, out of simple justice to the officers and men who had passed many days in their midst without a single complaint against them from the country people or anybody else and without a single 'police case,' and moreover that this year's 'fair' was the quietest known for some years. I have entered at great length into this subject, not more so, I hope, than the subject demands. I have not time to copy this letter, otherwise it would afford me satisfaction to show my opinion to Colonel Aldworth, Colonel Sir Augustus Warren, and Major Daly, who have so successfully commanded their regiments, and whose powerful influence could alone produce such a result. Yours faithfully, Julius Glyn, Major-General. I am quite sure that even the length and fulness of this statement will not make it at all the less satisfactory to the House, and that it will render it unnecessary for me to say more.