HC Deb 21 July 1915 vol 73 cc1477-8

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the remarks of the coroner's jury in a case in which a man approaching the Conduit Street bridge, Nottingham, was shot by a sentry on guard, owing to his mistaking the umbrella carried by the man for a rifle, and to the fact that the jury expressed the hope that the authorities would tell sentries not to fire haphazard and at random; whether he can state how many cases of civilians being shot by sentries have occurred since the beginning of the year in the United Kingdom; how many have had fatal results; and whether effect can be given to the expression of opinion by the jury?


Yes, Sir; my attention has been drawn to this case, and I have caused information to be collected as to the number of civilians who have been shot by sentries since the beginning of the year. There have been only two fatal cases, and eight others where the wound was not fatal. In all these cases the sentry was guarding a railway or other vulnerable point. Although we must naturally regret that any innocent person should have been shot, I think the House will agree that, in view of the large number of the armed sentries employed throughout the country, the number of casualties is very small indeed and reflects favourably on the discipline and judgment of all ranks. It also shows that there has been careful observance of the instructions to avoid haphazard firing, which were issued as long ago as last September.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think that in such a case as that mentioned in the question there is any need to supply the sentry with ball cartridge?


Oh yes, Sir, there is the greatest need.