HC Deb 11 March 1881 vol 259 cc813-4

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether the large proportion of officers killed recently in South Africa was owing, in a largo degree, to the peculiarity of their dress as distinct from that worn by the men, the officers wearing blue patrol jackets in several regiments, the men of which wore red, while in the Highland regiments the officers wore red shell jackets and the men white; and, whether the comparatively small loss of officers in the Rifle battalions may not be accounted for by the fact of their wearing a similar uniform to the men serving under them?


In reply to my hon. Friend, I have to say that there are no reasons for supposing that in any regiments the officers wore blue patrol jackets while the men wore red, nor that in the Highland regiments the officers wore red shell jackets and the men white. The regulations require that officers and men on service shall wear uniform of the same colour. With regard to the last part of the Question, my hon. Friend is in error in assuming that the Rifle battalion suffered a comparatively small loss in officers, the facts being that in the action on the Ingogo, the only action in which the 3rd battalion of the 60th Rifles were hotly engaged, that battalion lost 1 officer to 22 men killed and wounded, which is a larger proportion than the 58th and 92nd lost in either of the other two engagements; the 58th at Laing's Nek losing 1 officer to 34 men, and at Majuba 1 to 25; and the 92nd at Majuba lost 1 officer to 32 men.