HL Deb 02 July 1913 vol 14 cc742-8

*LORD WYNFORD rose Majesty's Government—

1. The number of service or practice rounds per gun fixed annually on practice ranges by—

  1. (a) Batteries, R.H.A., quartered at home;
  2. (b) Batteries, R.F.A., 18-pr., quartered at home;
  3. (c) Batteries, R.F.A., 4.5-inch Howitzers, quartered at home;
  4. (d) Batteries, R.H.A. (Territorial);
  5. (e) Batteries, R.F.A. (Territorial), 15-pr.;
  6. (f) Batteries, R.F.A. 5-inch Howitzers;
  7. (g) Batteries, Horse and Field, in the French Army;
  8. (h) Batteries, Horse and Field, in the German Army.

2. The cost of a round of practice ammunition used by the various batteries mentioned above in 1 (a) to 1 (f).

3. The annual cost of—

  1. (a) A Field Battery on the higher establishment of the Regular Army;
  2. (b) A Field Battery on the lower establishment of the Regular Army;
  3. (c) A Reserve Battery of the Regular Army;
  4. (d) A Field Battery of the Territorial Artillery.

4. The number of Territorial Batteries, Horse and Field, that fired live shell over land ranges during 1912.

5. The number of Territorial Batteries, Horse and Field, that have fired, or will fire, live shell over land ranges during 1913.

6. The number of Batteries included in both 4 and 5.

7. Whether the land practice ranges utilised by our Horse and Field Batteries, Regular and Territorial, are fully occupied during the training season.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Questions which I have on the Paper appear, I am afraid, rather technical in character, but I cannot help thinking that the replies to them will be welcomed by those of your Lordships who take an interest in military matters. The Questions, I hope, are sufficiently concise to elicit the desired information; but with the permission of the House I should like to make one or two remarks in reference to them. The information asked for in Question 1 used to be given in a pamphlet issued every year entitled Instructions for Horse and Field Artillery Practice, but it has ceased to be so given now, and is, I understand, contained in another Memorandum which is only issued to those concerned and a copy of which I have not been able to obtain. I hope the information will not be refused on the ground of its being of a confidential character. As to Question No. 2, I hope the noble Lord who will reply to me will understand that a round of ammunition includes the shell, the cartridge, the fuse, and the tube.

I hope the noble Lord will have no difficulty in giving me replies to Question 3. I felt bound to ask for information in some detail as now we have not only field batteries on the higher and lower establishment but also a new class of battery, a reserve battery which has just been formed out of the remnants of the training brigades which have been reduced from three batteries each to two. I must say I fail to understand how the Secretary of State for War reconciles the statement which he made in the Memorandum relating to the Army Estimates of this year, in which he said that the Artillery would not be reduced by a single unit, with the statement which has appeared in the last Army Order, dated June 20, where the number of batteries has been reduced by six.

My fourth Question is somewhat similar to one asked a short time ago by Lord Portsmouth. The difference consists in this, that the reply to Lord Portsmouth's Question gave the number of batteries that fired in each year and did not distinguish between batteries that fired over land ranges and those which fired over sea ranges, the latter of which are of little or no practical use for instruction. The same remark applies to the fifth Question.

Question 7 is, I hope, sufficiently clear. What I wish to learn is whether land practice ranges are made full use of for practice by both Regular and Territorial batteries during that period of the year when climatic conditions permit of such practice being carried out. If I am not mistaken, one if not two of the ranges on Salisbury Plain are closed about this time of the year to permit of the training of other branches of the Army being completed. I also understand that the range in Northumberland which was purchased two or three years ago by the Government is not being used this year and is not available for practice. I trust that the noble Lord will be able to give some reason for that.


My Lords, I very much regret that Lord Herschell, who would in ordinary circumstances have answered these Questions, is still away, his state of health being very far from what we should all like to see it. Lord Herschell since he has represented the War Office in your Lordships' House has worked very hard at these particular questions, and, as your Lordships know, there is no subject which requires a greater knowledge of facts and figures and of an enormous amount of detail. Therefore it is to the loss of this House that we should be deprived of the services of Lord Herschell after the amount of work which he has put in on this subject. In his absence I will do my best to answer the noble Lord's Questions.

The answer to Question 1 is as follows: The number of practice or service rounds per battery (six guns) fired annually on practice ranges by the R.H. and R.F.A. (Regulars) quartered at home and by Territorial batteries is—(a) Batteries of R.H.A. Regulars—Divisional, 600; Un-allotted, 580. (b) Batteries of R.F.A. Regulars—Divisional, 600; Un-allotted, 400. (c) Batteries of R.F.A., 4.5-in. Howitzers, 480. (d), (e) and (f). The annual allowance for batteries of R.H.A., Territorial Force, and 15-pr. batteries of R.F.A., Territorial Force, is 200 rounds, and for batteries armed with 5-in. Howitzers 122 rounds. The annual allowance in each case is pooled each year and allotted to the batteries practising that year at a rate which varies in accordance with the class of camp at which they practice. Batteries practising in 1913 are allowed the following number of rounds per battery:—

R.H.A. R.F.A. (15-pr.) R.F.A. (Howr.)
Batteries practising at a Regular Practice Camp—viz., Lark Hill, West Down, Oke-hampton, or Trawsfynydd 280 285 250
Batteries practising at Buddon or Pernbrey 180 172 150
Batteries practising at Lydd 100 100 108

(g) 150 rounds per gun are fired annually, but in addition many batteries at practice camps fire a great many more; 50,000 rounds are allowed for the gunnery courses in March and April at the Camp de Mailly alone, and these are fired in addition to 150 rounds per gun. (h) No information is available as to the number of service or practice rounds fired annually on practice ranges by batteries of Horse and Field Artillery in the German Army.

In reply to Question 2, the following is the cost of a round of practice ammunition used by the under-mentioned batteries of R.H.A. and R.F.A.:—

R.H.A. Home Shrapnel £1 9 0
R.F.A. Home 18-pr. Shrapnel 1 9 3
R.F.A. 4.5-inch Howitzer. Home 2 11 3
Lyddite Shrapnel 2 8 9
Shrapnel (practice) 1 15 6
R.H.A. T.F. 15-pr. Q.F. Shrapnel 1 12 2
Case shot 15 2
R.F.A. T.F. 15-pr. B.L.C. Shrapnel 1 6 11
Case shot. 9 11
R.F.A. T.F. 5-in. Howitzer Lyddite shell 2 17 1
Common 1 8 4
Shrapnel" 1 11 10

The total annual cost asked for in Question 3, including a share of brigade headquarters, is—(a) £19,200; (b)£15,200; (c) £12,000; (d) £3,500. The answer to Question 4 is 131, and in addition 11 batteries fired a modified course on the ranges at Shoeburyness. As to Question 5, the number who have fired or will fire (in accordance with 1 (d), (e) and (f) above) in 1913 is 128. Five others have fired a modified course. The replies to the remaining Questions are—To Question 6: The number of batteries who have fired or will fire both in 1912 and 1913 is 62, exclusive of batteries firing a modified course. To Question 7: The land practice ranges are fully occupied during the whole of the training season.

With regard to the point about Salisbury Plain, I do not think any change has been made since the time when I was at the War Office. It was always an understood thing then that one part of the range on Salisbury Plain was only used as an Artillery range during the earlier part of the training season when the Infantry and Cavalry units, and so on, were in the early stages of their annual training, and the moment they began to reach the more advanced stage which required a considerable amount of land it then became necessary to close the range in order to give them sufficient ground to do their training over. But the rest of the range on Salisbury Plain is in use from the earliest possible moment. I have no information as to the Northumberland range.


Can the noble Lord tell us how many Territorial batteries, if any, did not fire during 1912, and how many will not fire during 1913?


I should like notice of that Question.


Can the noble Lord tell us whether the readjustments of the Artillery referred to by Lord Wynford, which have caused the regrettable loss of six batteries, have been accompanied by any saving? And can he explain why in these readjustments batteries which have old records and distinctions have had them transferred from the personnel of those batteries to other batteries of different numbers which have not been reduced?


Perhaps the noble Viscount will give me notice of those Questions.

House adjourned at half-past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, Eleven o'clock.