HC Deb 28 July 1896 vol 43 cc827-9

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether, in view of the serious character of the news from Rhodesia, Her Majesty's Government propose to send more troops to South Africa?


In answer to this Question, I may be permitted to read the following telegrams. On June 22 I telegraphed to Lieutenant-General Goodenough:— Having regard to further news from Mashonaland, will it be necessary to send from home any more troops? What is your opinion, after consulting with Colonel Sir E. Carrington? On June 26 I received a reply from General Goodenough in these terms:— Referring to your telegram of 22nd June, No. 1, Carrington does not consider it necessary to send more troops from home at present, as we still have over 200 waiting for orders at Mafeking, and similar number mounted infantry at Cape Town, but suggests that mounted infantry or cavalry should be held in readiness. I concur. Arab sailed to-day for Beira with 14 officers, 238 men, two 7-poundor guns, two Maxims, and 145 horses, under the command of Alderson. Will pick up balance of horses at Durban. Due at Beira about 3rd July. Again, on June 29 I telegraphed to General Goodenough:— Presume that you clearly understand that Her Majesty's Government will send any forces which you think required by military exigencies of situation. In any case, we propose, on Imperial grounds, to fill up Cape Garrison from time to time as it may be depleted for service in Rhodesia. On July 7 I further telegraphed:— Three hundred and fifty mounted infantry are being held in readiness at Aldershot for service in South Africa; are you likely to want any of them? If not, Secretary of State for War would like to distribute them among the regiments to which they belong. A reply was received from General Goodenough on July 18, as follows:— Referring to your telegram of 7th July, No. 3, Carrington does not anticipate necessity of further reinforcements from home. I concur. On July 24 I cabled again to General Goodenough on this subject as follows:— Carrington's telegrams reporting recent military operations point to the conclusion that the work of stamping out rebellion may be tedious. Consider again in consultation with him whether still of opinion that forces sufficient, or whether further reinforcements are desirable, and report by telegram. I received yesterday evening the following reply:— 27th July.—Your telegram of the 24th July referred to Carrington, who reports that he is no doubt hampered by want of more men for rapid and effectual crushing rebellion, but if more were sent up he could not feed them under existing difficulties as to transport, I myself do not anticipate any lightening of these difficulties. All efforts are now directed to getting up food stuffs before the rains, which come on in three or four months' time, offering increased impediments to movement. At the present time I have over 1,000 Imperial troops in Rhodesia, Macloutsie and Mafeking, and should keep them efficient at that number. Hitherto, happily, the waste has been small. I think, under these circumstances, it would be wrong in Her Majesty's Government to force on the military commander in Rhodesia troops for whom they are not able to provide.