HC Deb 02 May 1892 vol 3 cc1769-70
MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to a reply given by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught before the Committee on the Terms and Conditions of Service in the Army (Q. 9410), in which His Royal Highness stated that the draft sent out in October, 1889, to the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was the youngest draft he had ever seen, and that he had written home to say that he feared one-half of them would die, a result which His Royal Highness heard later had actually occurred; and whether any Regulations are in contemplation to prevent the waste of young life in future?


Yes, Sir, my attention has been called to the statement made by His Royal Highness as regards the alleged mortality in the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, and I have caused careful inquiry to be made. I find that the information given to His Royal Highness was altogether inaccurate. The strength of the draft was 154, not 250 as stated. Only ten deaths out of a total of 35 deaths which occurred in the whole battalion in 15 months can be assigned to the men composing the draft, and seven out of the ten died of enteric fever. The ages of the men composing the draft ranged from 20 to 26 years. The year 1890 appears to have been an abnormally unhealthy one in the district in which this battalion was stationed. I may add that the Report of the Inspector General in India upon this draft was as follows:—"The draft that came were a good-looking and able body of young men"; and he further stated that the battalion was full, and in a first-rate condition of efficiency.