HL Deb 24 February 1885 vol 294 cc1144-6

rose to ask a Question with respect to the service equipment of some Cavalry recently ordered abroad. Among the troops told off for the Egyptian Expedition were two squadrons of 20th Hussars at Aldershot. They had received notice that their equipments would be given out to them at Aldershot, and they accordingly returned to store their ordinary clothing, except fatigue suits. Their Service equipment did not arrive at Aldershot, with the exception of helmets, which were of the wrong pattern, and at the last moment some sort of substitute for gaiters, and the bandolier cartridge belts, which attached themselves very badly to the ordinary clothing of the men. In this—Bashi-Bazouk fashion—they had marched from Aldershot. If the Queen, whose interest in her soldiers was well-known, had met those irregulars upon the road, Her Majesty would have required a striet explanation of the matter. This was not a very large matter, but if a small force could not be equipped at our principal Military Station without the contradictory orders and confusion there exhibited, then all their short-service, and territorial system, and Staff College, and Intelligence Department had been instituted in vain. He begged to ask the Question of which he had given Notice—namely, Whether the squadron of the 20th Hussars that marched from Aldershot on the 18th instant was in all respects properly equipped for the service upon which it was ordered?


in reply, said, he thought that nothing could be more unfair or in a greater degree inaccurate than the manner in which the noble Earl had asked this Question. The state of the case was that the clothing of the whole force recently ordered to the Soudan and Egypt had to be prepared in about 14 days, and no man had been sent without a full equipment of clothing for service. What happened in this case? No doubt, two squadrons were a small force; but it had been arranged that all the clothing should be prepared by the date of embarkation, which had been fixed for this force the 19th of this month. As a matter of fact, they had left Aldershot on the 18th, with the view of marching down to Portsmouth for embarkation. It had been arranged that the whole of the equipment to be used in the Soudan should be shipped for them on the trans- port, but they were very properly to go down to Portsmouth in their ordinary clothing; and he would be glad to hear from the noble Earl whether ho thought that troops ought to march in February in England with clothing to be worn in the middle of summer in Egypt. As to the helmets being of a wrong pattern, that history was not difficult to explain. It had at one time been thought fit to give out pith helmets, and these had been designed for all branches of the Service. They had been sent to Aldershot two or three days before the start; but the officer in command sent a telegram to say that, in consequence of not having chin straps, they could not be used for Cavalry. It was impossible to attach straps to a pith helmet; but, on receipt of the telegram, a supply of ordinary helmets was sent down, and the troops started with these two kinds of helmets, and they would be at liberty to use one or the other of them. He ventured to say that there had not been the slightest confusion nor the least delay.


observed that every word he had said had been borne out by statements of the noble Earl.