HL Deb 30 May 1916 vol 22 cc219-20

My Lords, before the House adjourns I venture to ask the noble and gallant Field-Marshal a Question of which I have given him private notice. I would direct his attention to a sentence in a speech by Colonel Churchill in the House of Commons on May 23. The right hon. gentleman said that a great deal of work behind the fighting line was being done by men who could equally well be replaced by older men or by men who were medically unfit. This is the sentence— He supposed there were in our Army 200,000 officers; every officer had a servant, and there were in addition about 50,000 grooms. These servants and grooms would form an army, but for how many of them could not substitutes be found at home? I do not want to make a speech on this subject but the fact that Colonel Churchill is either now or was very recently commanding a battalion at the Front makes an observation of that kind of special importance. I should like to ask the noble and gallant Field-Marshal whether it is the fact that there are 200,000 officers in the Army, and, if so, whether it is not the fact that officers who go to the trenches take their servants with them. In point of fact, do not the great majority of this army behind the lines go into the trenches, and would it be correct to assume that a further 50,000 men were kept behind the lines for the purpose of acting as grooms?


My Lords, the noble Viscount has practically answered the Question. The Regulations of the Army are that soldiers servants as well as grooms do serve in the trenches and are not considered as behind the fighting line except in very exceptional cases. I think that probably Colonel Churchill, when he made that remark, realised that fact thoroughly.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed by the DUKE of DEVONSHIRE.