HL Deb 18 February 1879 vol 243 cc1401-2

asked Her Majesty's Government, Whether any special preparations have been made for the disembarkation of the reinforcements of troops and stores on their arrival at Port Natal? The noble Viscount said, he believed the existing harbour to be one of the most dangerous in the world for an operation of the kind. There had been many cases in which lives and stores had been lost in the attempt to cross the bar, and the mouth of the harbour was so narrow that two boats could not enter abreast. He trusted the Admiralty and the military authorities would make all possible arrangements beforehand for the reception and landing of the troops about to be sent out. On a future evening he would inquire, if it were inconvenient to answer the Question now, whether any measures had been adopted to prevent the importation of arms into Zululand? In former wars it was found that the weapons which destroyed our own troops had been once in English arsenals, and on one occasion all the muskets taken from the enemy were marked "Tower." It was only through Portuguese traders and our own countrymen that the warlike stores in such abundance in the hands of the Zulus could be obtained. Other European Powers adopted stringent measures on this subject, and he trusted that like measures would be adopted by us to prevent the supply of arms to our enemy.


said, that, in answer to the first Question of the noble Viscount, a captain and staff of naval officers would leave London on Monday in the steamer Pretoria, charged with duties connected with the disembarkation of the troops and stores. Other steamers would start in a day or two with stores and a portion of the Army Hospital Corps with their equipment; and vessels of light draught would be provided capable of crossing the bar when the bar was in a fit state to be crossed—namely, when the water was at a depth of 12¼ feet. Arrangements had also been made with the different steamship companies trading to Natal for the use of their light craft — steamers, tugs, and lighters. These were on the spot and were constantly being used for the carriage of merchandize across the bar. They would be placed at the disposal of the military authorities, and would, no doubt, prove of the greatest value. In addition to this, transports were about to take out light draught boats for the conveyance of horses and stores. The steam pinnaces and cutters belonging to the men-of-war on the spot would also be available, and a steam pinnace was also being sent out from this country. In short, every available vessel had been already taken up and every possible precaution adopted. There was, no doubt, great difficulty in landing troops there. It was a very dangerous and exposed part of the coast, and frequently a heavy swell set in over the bar; but he might mention that the present was the most favourable time in the year for operations of that sort, and that the favourable season was likely to continue until the middle of April.


intimated that he would put his Question as to the importation of arms into Zululand on Monday.

House adjourned at Six o'clock, to Thursday next, half past Ten o'clock.