HC Deb 18 June 1900 vol 84 cc286-7
SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

had on the Paper the following question:—To ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can say who is responsible for the deficiency both of provisions and ammunition among the British garrison of Coomassie; and whether he can state why a larger relief force was not despatched to Coomassie over a month ago. The hon. Member was not, however, in his place to put it.


I do not think this question ought to remain on the Paper unanswered, because it seems to imply a state of things which is not correct. Reserves of food and ammunition for 300 men for three months were kept in Coomassie, and this was considered by the local authorities, who are responsible, to be sufficient. On the first intimation of the rebellion a much larger force than the local authorities then considered necessary was sent to the Gold Coast, but owing to the reluctance of the Gold Coast natives to engage as carriers, and to the extraordinary difficulties created by the heavy rains, the advance of the relieving column has been delayed. I am in constant communication with Colonel Willcocks and the local Government as to the best mode of dealing with the situation thus created and its possible developments. I may add that it is due to the energy of the Governor of Sierra Leone, Sir Frederic Cardew, that we have been able to send to the Gold Coast 3,000 odd carriers from Sierra Leone, and that, generally, we have in every case endeavoured to send to the Gold Coast more, and not less, both of stores and of men than have been requisitioned by the local authorities.