HL Deb 29 March 1881 vol 260 cc89-90

I wish to put a Question to the noble Earl opposite as to the peculiar information which is published respecting the surrender of one of the British garrisons in the Transvaal. According to the accounts in the newspapers Potchefstroom was surrendered during the armistice, as the provisions were within one day of reaching it. According to one account, the surrender seems to have taken place after a severe fight, in which it is said that 19 officers and soldiers were killed and 90 wounded. I should, therefore, like to know whether the noble Earl has any official account of the affair?


The Secretary of State for War yesterday received the following telegram from Sir Evelyn Wood:— March 28.—Fort Amiel, 12 noon.—Winsloe surrendered Potchefstroom on the 21st, before my mule waggons, which left Mount Prospect the 7th, had traversed the distance—200 miles. Terms: All honours of war, retaining private weapons and property; guns and rifles surrendered, but ammunition for both to be handed to Brand for custody during war, after which to be returned to us. Garrison not to serve during the hostilities at present existing. Garrison now marching viâ Kronstadt on Natal. I have conferred already with Mr. Childers on the subject; but we are not yet in possession of sufficient information to guide Her Majesty's Government as to the reply to be sent to Sir Evelyn Wood.


I wish to ask if the Government have any knowledge as to whether there was fighting on the occasion of the surrender of the place; and, if so, whether there was, as reported, any loss of life?


The whole of the information we have on the subject I have just read; but if I were to venture any conjecture I should say that the newspaper accounts refer to killed and wounded during the whole time the garrison was beleaguered. That, however, is entirely conjecture on my part.