HC Deb 19 June 1890 vol 345 cc1371-2

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War what position do Medical Officers occupy during operations in war, and are they ever brought under fire or exposed to danger; what was the mortality among Medical Officers from casualties in action, wounds, and disease during the recent South African, Egyptian, and Burma Wars, and what percentage did the mortality bear to the number of such officers employed; how many officers of the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, the Line, the Commissariat and Pay Departments were killed in the wars referred to, and what was the percentage of mortality from wounds and sickness in each of the above-named branches of the Service; was the Victoria Cross conferred on any officers of the Medical Staff during recent campaigns; and, if so, under what circumstances; what is the meaning of the phrase "Non-Combatant;" if it means that "Non-Combatant" Officers do not occupy the fighting line and are not exposed to danger, why are Medical Officers who are called "Non-Combatant," not kept in a place of safety with the Pay and Commissariat Department; excluding V.C.'s, what honours have Medical Officers received for recent campaigns, and what proportion do the honours received bear per rank to the honours given to Combatant Officers; and why, in the matter of sick leave, are Medical Officers treated differently from other Officers, and why they are only allowed six months' sick leave while Combatants are allowed 12 months?


Medical Officers are classed as "Non-Combatant," for the simple reason that they are not Combatants, and that there are only these two designations. It is the fact, nevertheless, that their duties take them under fire far more than other Non-Combatants, and that many Medical Officers have been killed or wounded in action, and the Victoria Cross has been conferred upon two of them. Taking six recent campaigns together, the mortality of Line Officers was 5.4 per cent., and that of Medical Officers 3.1 per cent. The question of sick leave is one of expense, as substitutes would be required for Medical Officers. This applies in a much smaller degree in the case of Combatant Officers.