HC Deb 05 July 1906 vol 160 cc214-6
MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can state how many natives have been killed since the beginning of the military operations now being carried on against them by the Natal authorities; what proportion the wounded bear to the killed; and how many of the white forces in the field have been killed and wounded during the same period.


From the information in the Colonial Office, it would appear that twelve white men have been killed and thirty wounded since the beginning of May. No trustworthy accounts of native losses are available, and I would recommend the House to receive, with considerable reserve, statements of native casualties, admittedly based upon " estimates " which are almost invariably much exaggerated by the victors in any action. I cannot therefore attempt to state the proportion between native and British losses; but of course the number of the native killed and wounded greatly exceeds that of the white troops, who are armed with modern weapons and compelled to fire at close' quarters with these weapons upon charging masses of spearmen. The native wounded are taken from the field to the neighbouring kraals, with which the country is thickly studded, and are there tended by their own people. I do not know what is the proportion of wounded to killed; but it would certainly not be less than half-and-half.

MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)

asked whether the hon. Gentleman's attention had been called to the description of some of these engagements as a drive, and what did that mean. Were these natives hunted down like the beasts of the field?


asked whether there was any truth in the report that native levies who accompanied the Natal troops despatched the wounded after the engagement.


said he certainly did not think there was any truth in an implication of the nature conveyed in the last Question. As to the significance of the word " drive," he should have thought it was an operation that had been made tolerably familiar, unfortunately, in recent years.


said he had only heard the word in connection with grouse.


In fact it is merely a technical expression.

MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House particulars of the fighting in Natal, near Noodsberg, on Sunday last; the extent of the carnage; and especially the respective casualties of the white and black contending forces.


The following telegram has been received from the Governor:— " 2nd July, No. 7. Barker's Transvaal Mounted Rifles, moving from Dalton to Isidembeni Mission to take part in to-morrow's operations were attacked by Mhlubi and Xakwana's tribes, 1,500 strong, who advanced to close quarters. Rebels repulsed and pursued down Insuzi Valley. Their loss estimated at 600. Our loss trooper Knight killed, troopers Simcox and Tobin wounded."


said there had been very severe fighting since Sunday, and asked whether the hon. Gentleman had any information as to that. It was reported that the rebels fought half-heartedly, and retired eventually before terrific rifle and Maxim firing. Was that what Englishmen considered fair fighting?


said he had received another telegram to the following effect: — "Governor Sir H. E. McCallum to the Earl of Elgin. (Received Colonial Office, 11 p.m., July 4, 1906.) July 4, No. 2. —Major Campbell, Durban Light Infantry, escorting convoy 22 wagons Bond's Drift to Thring's Post with detachments j of Durban Light Infantry, Northern District Mounted Rifles, Zululand Mounted Rifles, 140 strong in all, attacked in the evening of July 1st Macrae's Store by impi 500 strong Gobizembi's and Nhlovus tribes; rebels charged three times but repulsed with steady fire. Laager formed escort, stood to arms all night. On following morning 40 rebels found dead; two wounded, who were attended to and left on field when convoy again set out for Thring's Post, which was reached July 3rd. Trooper Coll, Zululand Mounted Rifles, severely wounded by assegais, since dead. All ranks behaved greatest steadiness."