HC Deb 21 November 1884 vol 294 cc138-9

asked the Secretary of State for War, To be good enough to inform the House how many portable armed river steamers are now with or "en route" for the Nile Expedition, and whether more are to be despatched; if all the rowing boats are whale, or a portion light rowing gigs; whether any accurate reports have been received, stating the number of miles rowed each day from sunrise to sunset, and when it was anticipated that the relieving force will reach Berber; and if the rank and file of the Army, and men engaged in rowing, have been fully provided with food and comforts necessary for the prevention of sickness over and above the regulation allowances?


There are two portable river steamers now on the Nile. No others are at present under orders. Of the 800 boats sent to the Nile 789 are whale-boats, 10 are fast rowing or sailing gigs, and one is a life-raft. No Returns have been received showing the distances rowed each day; and, as I stated last week, I am not prepared at present to give any reliable estimate of the time which the Expedition would take to reach any particular place. Bearing in mind General Gordon's warning, it would be very undesirable to make public any such estimate. A special ration of the kind considered best by the military and medical authorities has been provided for the men engaged in working the boats.