HC Deb 10 March 1902 vol 104 cc983-4

On the Motion for the adjournment,

(12.28) MR. BRODRICK

I have received another telegram from Lord Kitchener, which does not add much to our information, but as it is the only way of communicating it to the Press I will read it to the House. It is dated Pretoria, today, 11.50 a.m.— The following is a summary of the latest reports. Lord Methuen's ox convoy, escorted by half his force, started one hour in advance of the mule convoy at dawn. The enemy made a sudden enveloping attack on the rear. The first confusion was occasioned by native boys, who galloped through the mule convoy with led horses, as the latter was endeavouring, by Lord Methuen's directions, to close on the ox convoy. This disorder to the mule convoy communicated itself to the mounted troops. The Boers, dressed in khaki, riding among the wagons, frustrated all attempts of the officers to rally. Great confusion ensued among this portion of the mounted troops, and they and the mule wagons galloped three miles beyond the ox wagons, and were cut off Sections 4th and 38th Batteries fought with great gallantry, and the 300 infantry of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment showed conspicuous courage in protecting the wagons, and refusing to surrender until resistance was useless. Delarey's force was almost all dressed in our uniform, which made it impossible for our infantry to distinguish between our own men and the enemy when the mounted troops. were driven in upon them. The enemy numbered 1,500, with one 15-pounder and a pom-pom. Delarey, Celliers, Kemp, Vermass, and other leaders were present. Lord Methuen was seen by an Intelligence Department agent being well cared for in his own wagon." By a private telegram just received I find that Lord Methuen had a fractured thigh, but was reported to be doing well. A further message received says:—"Wounded will be brought in to the railway to-day. I hope reinforcements now arriving will rectify situation in this area without disturbing operations elsewhere. —(Signed) LORD KITCHENER.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, W.)

asked the right hon. Gentleman,. with reference to the telegram he had read earlier in the day, which contained a request from Lord Kitchener that its publication should be delayed, whether, in fact, he did delay publication, and whether, in fact, that was done on any previous occasion, and if any such request were made.


I cannot say whether there was any such request on a previous occasion. But on this particular occasion, where the losses were likely to be large. where great anxiety would be caused, and where the actual events were still in doubt, Lord Kitchener requested me not to publish the telegram without some little delay, in order that needless anxiety might not be caused to many people. I think he was fully justified in making that request.

Adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock.