HC Deb 21 June 1900 vol 84 cc616-7

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the case of Private Mitchell, of the Wiltshire Regiment, who was shot in both ankles at the battle of Modder River, and is now an inmate of the Lambeth workhouse; and will he state why Mitchell was turned out of Woolwich Hospital and compelled to seek shelter at a friend's house in Lambeth; and will he inform the House what arrangements have been made by the War Office for the reception, housing, and maintenance of private soldiers invalided home from South Africa, whether in consequence of being wounded or from other causes; and whether any definite system of pensions has yet been fixed by the War Office for the widows of officers and men losing their lives during the South African campaign.

MR. MARKS (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)

I beg at the same time to ask the Under Secretary of State for War j whether his attention has been called to the case of Private Mitchell, of the Wiltshire Regiment, who was wounded in both legs at the battle of Modder River, and was recently discharged from Woolwich Hospital because the hospital authorities wanted room, and subsequently! admitted into the Lambeth workhouse | infirmary in a weak state of health; whether the case has been reported to the War Office by the Lambeth guardians; and what action, if any, the War Office intends to take in the case.


There are over 7,000 beds reserved in the various military hospitals for private soldiers invalided from South Africa. On reaching convalescence the soldier is transferred to a convalescent home. We have ample accommodation for the first stage of recovery in hospitals and for the second in homes. But many soldiers prefer to proceed on sick furlough to their friends. This is allowed when their health justifies it. They are, in that case, provided with sufficient funds and with a printed statement for their guidance which contains this paragraph— Soldiers on furlough who require medical aid shall apply for it to the nearest military station. When this is impracticable they may apply to a civil practitioner, to whom they will -show this furlough paper, and who will be allowed to charge for attendance at the rate laid down on Army Form O, 1667. Arrangements had been made to send Private Mitchell to a convalescent home, but, at his own request, he was allowed to go on furlough to Croydon. On leaving hospital he received £7 17s. 6d.pay. Private Mitchell states that the people with whom he intended to stay had left Croydon. He accordingly proceeded to London, and, feeling ill, went to the Morley Hotel, 112, Lambeth Road. His health did not improve, and, when he had spent two days and two nights in bed, the manager sent for a doctor, who ordered Ms removal to the infirmary. A gentleman at the hotel applied to the commanding officer, St. George's Barracks, for his removal to a military hospital. The reply did not arrive before his removal. He was accordingly visited in the infirmary and removed in a military ambulance to the Station Hospital in Rochester Row. I beg to thank the hon. Members who, by raising this question, have given me an opportunity of stating the facts at a length which will not, I hope, be considered excessive in view of its importance. There has been much comment on this case, and I shall be obliged if the press will give equal publicity to the fact that civilians who find a soldier left stranded on their hands should apply to the nearest military authority, and not despatch him incontinently to a pauper institution.