HC Deb 09 June 1898 vol 58 cc1164-5
MR. HARDY (Kent, Ashford)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State far War whether three battalions of Volunteers, namely, the 1st Cinque Ports Rifles and the 1st and 2nd East Kent Battalions, were recently encamped in brigade at Shorncliffe; whether any brigadier of either the regular or auxiliary farces was appointed to command these battalions; whether they were during the whole period of their training given any opportunities of being exercised in brigade or allowed to take any share in any garrison duties, or visited even by any member of the garrison staff; whether he is aware that these battalions, even in the recent very wet and stormy weather, though encamped on Government land, were strictly forbidden to dig any trenches round their tents; and whether, with a view to the efficiency of the Volunteer Force, he will take steps to prevent such treatment of Volunteers in future?


The three Volunteer battalions referred to were encamped at Shorncliffe from the 27th May to the 4th June. They were encamped with the regular forces, and were under the temporary command of the senior officer present, owing to the death of Major-General Wood, who commanded at Shorncliffe. They could have been exercised in brigade at any time by the senior officer present; the General Officer commanding, however, reports that, for apparently sufficient reasons, they specially wished to be exercised in regimental rather than brigade work this year. The battalions were visited by the General Officer commanding the South Eastern District, who also inspected one of the battalions, by the officer commanding the 3rd Regimental District, who inspected them, by the officer commanding the troops at Shorncliffe, and by his Brigade Major. It is not the custom to allow trenches to be dug round tents except in very severe weather.