HC Deb 07 June 1915 vol 72 cc71-3

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War, whether he is aware that the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery landed in England on 18th October, 1914, and is now at Maresfield Park Camp, Sussex although the Royal Canadian Dragoon's, Strathcona's Horse, and the 2nd King Edward's Horse, brigaded with the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery under the command of Brigadier-General Seely, are at the front dismounted and have been fighting in the trenches; whether he is aware that the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery forms part of the permanent force of Canada and is considered its most efficient unit, and its commanding officer, Colonel Panet, one of the best and most efficient of Canadian regular soldiers; whether he is aware that His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught informed this brigade before leaving Canada that they would be utilised at once, and that consequently the officers and men are keenly disappointed that they are still in England, while Canadian Militia Artillery trained by the officers of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, are now fighting in France, while the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery are merely doing routine duty in England; whether he is aware that, although this is a highly disciplined brigade, Colonel Panet has difficulty in keeping his men in hand by reason of their disappointment and keenness to be in the fighting line, many of the men having absented themselves and stowed away to France with other units, only to be discovered and returned to Maresfield Camp; whether it is due to the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery being armed with 13 p.q.f. guns that they have been prevented from going to the front; if so, whether he is aware that all the officers and men of this brigade are highly-trained gun-layers and range-finders and quite capable of handling efficiently any class of gun; whether he is aware that not only in the brigade, but amongst Canadians generally, it is felt a slight has been put upon this fine body of men; and will he arrange for this unit being sent to the front at once?


The facts stated regarding this battery in the early part of this question are substantially accurate. I have no information as to what His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught told this battery before it left Canada. I have every reason to believe that Colonel Panet is a very efficient officer, and the same applies, I am informed, to the officers and men. It is also the case that Artillerymen who are efficient and well trained with any particular gun can soon make themselves efficient with some other gun. But there is no justification for the suggestion that a slight is placed upon units detained in this country for military reasons. Some difficulty is found in placing and utilising a battery which does not form part of a brigade, especially when it is armed with the thirteen-pounder gun, but it is hoped that the occasion to utilise their services at the front may shortly occur.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery were brigaded with the other regiments under Brigadier-General Seely; that they also volunteered to go to the front as Infantry; and will he arrange to supply them with 18-pounders, or heavier guns, so that these highly trained and keenly patriotic men may get to the front at once?


The answer to the first part is that the brigade which my right hon. and gallant Friend commands is a brigade of Cavalry, and this is an Artillery battery. The reply to the second part is that as soon as 18-pounder guns are available, no doubt they will be armed with them.


Is not the real reason for this action that Horse Artillery are usually employed as accessories to Cavalry formations, and that when the brigade commanded by General Seely was dismounted and became Infantry the usefulness of Horse Artillery was so much lessened?


The hon. Gentleman is very well informed on military subjects, and I congratulate him on having the information which he has imparted.