HC Deb 19 April 1898 vol 56 cc406-7
SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether careful observations were taken by Colonel Ellis, 2nd W. I. Regiment, to determine the geographical position of Waima, within one month after the unfortunate collision between French and British troops; and, if so, whether the result of such topographical observations, was communicated to Her Majesty's Government; and, whether such portions of any dispatch from Colonel Ellis on the subject as may relate to the position of Waima, can be communicated to the House without prejudice to the public service? Perhaps I may be allowed to explain that on Saturday I became aware that the dispatch referred to in the second paragraph of the Question was published in the London Gazette. but as it seemed to have passed unnoticed I put the Question on the Paper.


Yes, Sir, that is so. It was impossible for Colonel Ellie to determine with accuracy the position of Waima, as he did not possess the necessary instruments. The position was approximately determined by two officers of the expedition, but mot with sufficient accuracy to enable Her Majesty's Government to assert that the place was in British territory. In April 1894 astronomical observations were made by an officer of the Sierra Leone Government with the view of determining the position of Waima. These and all other available information were examined by the Director of Military Intelligence, Who reported on 19th June, 1894, that— on the evidence now forthcoming it is quite impossible to assume that it (i.e., Waima) is either west or east of the'13th meridian; i.e., is in British territory or otherwise. In 1895 another officer of the Sierra Leone Government, in company with the present Governor, made further observations, but it was not until 1896 that the position was finally determined by Major Grant and Sir F. Cardew. It does not seem to be necessary to lay the only paragraph in Colonel Ellis's dispatch that relates to the position of Waima, inasmuch as it has already been published in a supplement to the Gazette of February 28th, 1894.