HC Deb 10 December 1888 vol 331 cc1611-2
MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

May I put another Question to the Secretary of State for War—a Question on an African subject? It is, whether a telegram in one of the journals to-day is true, that a fresh demand for reinforcements has been made by telegraph yesterday from Suakin to the authorities in London?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

I received the following telegram from General Dormer yesterday, dated Cairo, December 9:— Grenfell fully understands and telegraphs his opinion of confidence. But in face of repeated offers of reinforcements thinks he may not be justified in continuing to refuse them. Therefore, an Egyptian steamer will be ready, leaving Suez about the 12th of December. I propose to (?) send her back to Suakin with squadron 20th Hussars and 300 men Welsh Regiment. These steps have been approved. In another telegram, General Grenfell says "I am quite confident of success." The House will probably like to hear the precise number of troops at Suakin, independently of these reinforcements. There are at Suakin 110 Mounted Infantry, over 600 British Infantry; and the total force, including the Egyptian troops, is over 4,500. The last Report as to the forces opposed to us states the number at 1,700, of whom 700 were in reserve at Handoub.


Can the right Gentleman tell us when the repeated offers of reinforcements were made, and what was their nature?


I have already told the House that we ourselves originally offered to add British troops to the force that General Grenfell was about to take to Suakin. Since that time we have pressed upon General Grenfell the immense importance of telling us frankly and fully whether he is completely satisfied as to the forces at his disposal; and we have always led him and others to believe that whatever reinforcements they asked for would be sent.