HC Deb 26 February 1880 vol 250 cc1441-2

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to a letter published in the "Natal Witness" of January 4th, in which the writer, Mr. W. E. Bale, states that on recently visiting the battle field of Isandhlwana he was horrified to find, for two miles, the dead bodies of numbers of the English force either lying unburied, or so imperfectly buried that their remains were exposed to view; whether his attention has also been called to another letter from the same writer, published in the "Natal Colonist" of January 16th, in which he states that the Chief Hlubi men have found, at a kraal near Isandhlwana the remains of a number of soldiers of the 24th regiment; and, if these reports should on inquiry prove to be correct, whether he will take immediate steps to secure for the unburied dead, wherever they may be found, decent interment?


I have not seen the reports which the hon. Member has quoted; but I have written by to-day's mail to Natal to make inquiry on the subject. If they are correct, I do not doubt that steps have already been taken for the decent interment of any bodies left unburied. But I cannot think that they are correct; for in a despatch received early last July, and published at that time, the hon. Member will find an account of the steps that had been taken for the interment of those who fell at Isandhlwana. The bodies of the soldiers of the 24th Regiment were left, at the request, I think, of the Colonel of the regiment, to be buried by their comrades, a party of whom were, I believe, subsequently engaged for a fortnight in this work. I have heard from a gentleman connected with the War Office, who went out to Natal last summer on an official mission, that he visited Isandhlwana about the end of October, and rode all over the field of battle with the express object of seeing whether the dead were properly buried, as General Clifford had asked him to do so. He saw no unburied bodies. As the grass was then short, he must have seen them if there were any; and, in his opinion, the interment had been properly carried out.