HC Deb 27 March 1879 vol 244 c1863

asked the Secretary of State for "War, Whether any of the regiments lately despatched to South Africa were furnished with portable intrenching tools; and, if not, whether her Majesty's Government think it desirable that any delay should occur in providing such equipment; and, whether Her Majesty's Government are aware that the Roumanian Army at the Siege of Plevna, and the Austrian Army in the disputed occupation of the Turkish Provinces, found such equipment of signal service?


in reply, said, our Infantry and Cavalry were always furnished with the ordinary equipment, which comprised intrenching tools, spades, and pickaxes; and, in addition to these, the regiments lately despatched to South Africa had 2,000 or 3,000 spades and pickaxes of a light character. Our attachés had furnished full information upon the use made of this equipment at Plevna and by the Austrian Army of Occupation, and a careful report was being made by the military authorities. It was obvious that while intrenching tools might be useful to enable men to protect themselves against a distant fire, they would have been of no avail as against a sudden rush like that at Isandula.