HC Deb 16 February 1899 vol 66 cc1083-4
CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether he can state if an application was made by the Army Medical authorities for a hospital ship, in connection with the Khartoum expedition, in sufficient time for it to have reached Alexandria before the arrival of the sick from the front?


An application for a hospital ship was made by the Principal Medical Officer in Egypt to the General Officer commanding the Army of occupation on June 27th. Both these officers were at that time in London. The General Officer commanding sent forward the application unofficially, adding that if on arrival in Egypt he found it necessary he would again apply through Lord Cromer. Pending the receipt of such an official application the General Officer commanding was given full powers to take up passages for the sick and wounded together with their medical attendants, nurses, etc., on board the P. and O., and other passenger ships passing almost daily through the Suez Canal, supplementing in this manner the accommodation afforded by the two Government transports allotted to this service. On the 14th September the General Officer Commanding applied officially by telegraph for a hospital ship, but since it would have taken five weeks to fit out and transfer such a ship to Alexandria, it was decided to adhere to the arrangements already made. Four hundred and sixty-five invalids were conveyed by six vessels between 20th September and 30th October, and all arrived in England considerably sooner than would have been the case had a hospital ship been despatched.


Arising out of that answer, may I ask whether in consequence of this some 60 or 70 officers and men were detained in hospital at Alexandria, with only two nurses, while suffering from enteric fever?


No complaints have reached us to that effect; but, if such a thing did occur, it was not due to the non-employment of special hospital ships. It may have been due to the accommodation at Alexandria and Cairo not being sufficiently ample for the outbreak of enteric fever, which took place some time after the finish of the campaign.