HC Deb 23 March 1903 vol 119 cc1454-6
MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a drummer-boy of 1st Grenadier Guards, having left the barracks on Coronation night to see the illuminations, was on his return severely flogged by Sergeant Drummer Sinclair, and afterwards handed over to his fellow boy drummers, who tossed him in a blanket, with the result that he was unable to stand upright on parade next day, and was then sent to hospital; and that Sergeant Drummer Sinclair was, in consequence, reduced to the ranks one day and re-instated in full the next; and will he state what steps have been taken to prevent a repetition of these practices.


A boy of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards broke out of barracks on the evening of the 9th August, 1902. The fact was discovered and reported to the sergeant drummer of the battalion, who failed to report the matter to superior authority, took the law into his own hands, and personally chastised the boy. The boy's back was examined by Lieutenant-Colonel Kinloch and by a surgeon, and they were of opinion that the boy had received a severe caning. The bruises on the boy's back were stated not to have been inflicted by Sergeant Drummer Sinclair, but at the hands of a certain number of drummers of the battalion, who, it was feared by Lieutenant-Colonel Kinloch, had been instigated by the sergeant-drummer to do so. Lieutenant-Colonel Kinloch stated that he feared the sergeant drummer had been in the habit of carrying out the duties of his responsible position in a most improper and reprehensible manner. Sergeant Drummer Sinclair was tried by a District Court-martial on the 29th August, 1902, in connection with this matter, and was sentenced to be reduced to the rank of corporal, but was recommended to mercy on account of his previous excellent character. It was stated in evidence before the Court-martial that, after the boy had been beaten by the sergeant drummer with a stick, some of the other boys tossed him in a blanket and beat him. The boy himself stated before the Court-martial that, as his back was all bruised, he asked leave from church, but was refused. Sergeant Drummer Sinclair's reduction to the rank of corporal bore date 29th August, 1902, and it has only now been brought to the notice of the War Office that he was re-appointed sergeant drummer on the 4th September, 1902, by the officer commanding the Grenadier Guards, on the recommendation of the officer commanding the 1st Battalion. The circumstances under which this reinstatement was made are being investigated by the adjutant-general.