§ LORD CALTHORPE
said, he wished to ask the Secretary for War a question in reference to the recent distribution of the Legion of Honour among the officers of the English army. He had recently read a list of those officers, and he was surprised to find that not one of the aides-de-camp of the late Lord Raglan was included in it. After the battle of Inkerman, the Emperor of the French notified to Lord Raglan his wish to confer on him the highest rank of the Legion of Honour, and to bestow decorations on the officers of his staff. Lord Raglan, about the end of November or the beginning of December, wrote to the English Government to obtain their permission to accept these honours, but he obtained no answer until about five weeks before his death—an interval of six months. After the death of Lord Raglan, Marshal Pelissier intimated to the French Government that it would be paying a just and proper respect to the memory of the noble Lord if they were to bestow some decorations on his staff. This suggestion was approved by the Emperor, and it was communicated to the English Government, but nothing more had been heard of the matter, until the general distribution of the French honours took place, when it was thought that the claims of Lord Raglan's staff would not be overlooked. When it was considered that the French Government had intimated their wish that the decorations should be distributed as a mark of respect to the memory of Lord Raglan, he was justified in saying that the exclusion of these officers from the number of those who received the decorations appeared 1349 like a slur on Lord Raglan's memory. He therefore asked the noble Lord why the names of these officers were omitted from the list of those receiving the decorations, and whether the English Government had not received some communication from the French Government with respect to their wishes on the subject?
§ THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND
said, it appeared to him very extraordinary that the staff of Lord Raglan had not received the decorations which were certainly intended for them, and he could not help thinking that there had been some mistake. One officer who was well known, and who had been with Lord Raglan at the Alma and Inkerman, and remained with him up to his death—he meant Colonel Somerset, one of his aides-de-camp—had told him (the Duke of Cleveland) that he had been in constant communication, on the part of Lord Raglan, with the three French commanders—St. Arnaud, Canrobert, and Pelissier—and that He had heard them distinctly say that it was the most anxious wish of the Emperor that all his staff should receive the decoration of the Legion of Honour; and, as the noble Lord had just stated, the Emperor himself, after the battle of Inkerman, sent an intimation to Lord Raglan that he would receive the highest decoration of the Legion of Honour, and that all his personal staff would also be decorated.
§ LORD COLCHESTER
considered that these decorations had been given away in a rather incautious manner. A friend of his, commanding a line of battle ship, had received from his own Sovereign the Order of the Bath, but in the distribution of the French honours he was passed over, although it had been given to his first lieutenant, although that officer, however meritorious, had never seen any land service.
§ LORD PANMURE
reminded the House that nothing gave so much dissatisfaction as the distribution of military honours. With regard to the general question as to the distribution of the Cross of the Legion of Honour given by the French Emperor to the army of the Queen, he would, in the first place, state that he was not responsible for the selection of the different officers. When the intentions of the Emperor were made known to the English Government through the Foreign Office, the Commander in Chief instructed the commanders of the army in the East, Generals Simpson and Codrington, to return a list of the names, and that list was afterwards sent to the French Government. Therefore, if any 1350 complaint were made as to the manner of the selection, the responsibility did not rest with the Government. But, at the same time, he was quite convinced that both General Simpson and General Codrington made the selection in accordance with the opinions they had formed of the services rendered by the different officers, and with a view to a fair distribution of the honours throughout the army; and he believed that they had acted in an impartial manner, and without favour or affection. In reference to the question of the noble Baron, he had to state that he had inquired at the Foreign Office whether there was any communication with regard to the distribution of the Order of the Legion of Honour to Lord Raglan or his staff; and the answer he had received was, that there was no trace in the office of any correspondence on the subject; nor could he trace any correspondence on the subject in his own department. But it was probable that the intimation of the French Emperor, as to his conferring these decorations, might be found in the private correspondence of Lord Raglan to his (Lord Panmure's) predecessor. It was wrong to suppose that there was any disposition to cast a slur upon the memory of Lord Raglan. There was not an officer on his staff who had not received one or two steps of promotion, or had not been decorated with the Companionship of the Bath from his own Sovereign. With regard to Colonel Somerset, that officer went out as lieutenant-colonel in Lord Raglan's staff. He had only just received his lieutenant-colonelcy, and was too young to be promoted over the heads of a vast number of lieutenant colonels who were senior to him. However, he had been made a C.B. It was impossible that the general commanding in chief or Her Majesty's Government could be accused of having shown any disposition to cast a slur on the memory of Lord Raglan.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, he could not understand how any officer could desire to wear a decoration vicariously, not on account of his own merits, but on account of the merits of the General under whom he had served. Honours were valueless unless they were bestowed for the services of those who wore them. At the commencement of the last war he had ventured to suggest the principle—the only true and correct principle—that no man should receive a decoration except for service under fire. A decoration given for any other kind of service was a deception 1351 upon the public, and did no honour to the gentleman who received it. He knew several good officers who were entitled to decorations under general rules, but who had refused to wear them on the ground that they did not come within the principle he had stated. He had heard that all the officers and seamen employed in the Baltic fleet were to receive decorations. Why, hardly any of those men had the opportunity of being under fire; hardly 300 of them were ever within reach of shot! It was no fault of theirs, and they had rendered great services in another way—fighting was almost the least part of a sailor's duty—but they were not entitled to a medal. To give them a medal would be contrary to all the principles on which honorary distinctions were granted by nations for the purpose of encouraging military ambition. He had read the list of persons who were to receive honour from the French Government, and there seemed to him to be a profound misconception as to the relative value of the individuals on whom honours were to be bestowed. This was not the first instance, for at the close of the last war the same thing was done to a limited extent; but he hoped it would be the last instance of an interchange of honours between nations; officers should be made to know that they must look to their own Sovereign, and to their own Sovereign alone, for the honours they earned by their service in the field. That was the true principle, and any departure from it was likely to lead to mischievous results.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
understood the noble Lord who had commenced the discussion to complain that a reflection had been cast upon Lord Raglan by no honours being granted to the gentlemen upon his staff. He inferred, therefore, that they claimed these honours in consideration of the services of Lord Raglan.
§ LORD CALTHORPE
said, that the services of Lord Raglan's aides-de-camp had been seen and acknowledged by all the French commanders.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
observed, that aides-de-camp were not, generally speaking, ill-treated men. They usually received a larger sharp of promotions, and honours, and were subjected to less hardship than regimental officers.