SOUTH AFRICA—THE ZULU WAR— THE MARINES.—QUESTIONS.
HC Deb 10 March 1879 vol 244 cc526-8
§ MR. GOSCHEN asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether the question of employing a force of Marines in the Zulu War has been considered by the Government; and, if so, whether he will state the reason why this body of seasoned troops, ready for service at the shortest notice, had not been utilised?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Sir, the question of employing the Marines in the Zulu War was considered by the Government; but, on the whole, the military authorities were of opinion that the selection actually made was the best in the circumstances of the case. Individually, I may say that I regret that the gallant corps of Royal Marines have not had an opportunity of distinguishing themselves, for I am sure they would have distinguished themselves if an opportunity had been given to them of serving at the Cape, seeing that they fully merit the appellation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, who speaks of them as a "body of seasoned troops ready for service at the shortest notice." If, unfortunately, further reinforcements should be required for the Cape, I have reason to believe that the Marines will be the first battalion sent out. No further information has been received today, either by the Secretary of State for War or at the Colonial Office
SOUTH AFRICA—THE ZULU WAR— THE ROYAL MARINES.—QUESTIONS.
HC Deb 22 May 1879 vol 246 cc1018-9
§ MR. OTWAY asked the First Lord of the Admiralty a Question which, to some extent, followed upon the one which had just been answered by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. It was, Whether it is not the case that there in this country and disposable for foreign service about 2,000 seasoned soldiers of the Royal Marines; and, if so, what hinders the employment of these soldiers on service for which they are especially qualified in South Africa; and, whether difficulties exist in consequence of a difference of views between the Admiralty and War Department as the employment or command of the Royal Marines on such service?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
It is perfectly true that there are about 2,000, or even more, Royal Marines, seasoned soldiers, and fit to embark for the seat of war if their services are required. I have already stated in this House that it is the intention of the Government, should it become necessary to send out battalions for the seat of war, to send first of all a battalion of Marines. There is nothing to hinder the employment of these soldiers in the Service, for which they are specially qualified. In. answer to the latter part of my hon. Friend's Question, I may say there is the most perfect agreement between the Admiralty and the War Department in this matter, and their views are entirely identical.
NAVY-THE ROYAL MARINES.—OBSERVATIONS.
HC Deb 16 March 1882 vol 267 cc1052-61
§ SIR HENRY FLETCHER said, he wished briefly to call attention to the reconstruction of the Board of Admiralty, and to invite the opinion of the House as to the desirability of appointing a General Officer of the Royal Marines, who would fully understand the requirements of that branch of the Service, a member of the Board. For many years past the Marines had been under the control of the Board of Admiralty, which consisted of the First Lord of the Admiralty, three Naval Lords, and a Civil Lord. His contention was that the Marine Force, which composed something like one-third of the fighting men of the Navy, ought to be represented at the Board by one of their own officers. The senior Naval Lord of the Admiralty was, he believed, immediately charged with the administration of the Royal Marines. However much he might desire to do full justice to the Corps, it was impossible that the many other duties he had to perform could permit him to give sufficient attention to their requirements. This year it was proposed to make a reduction of something like 600 men in the Marines. He would venture to say that that reduction was not altogether wise, because the Marines were a most useful body of men, who were able to act either on sea or land. If a General Officer of Marines were appointed to the Board of Admiralty, the requirements of the Corps would be fully inquired into, and the grievances which he was sorry to say existed would be removed. A few years ago a battalion of Marines 1,000 strong was sent to take part in the Zulu War; but they were not allowed to land, while regiments composed of young soldiers, unable so well to stand the fatigues of a campaign, were sent to the front. On every occasion on which they had been called upon the Royal Marines had always done good service to the country.
The above discussions were conducted in Parliamenet during and after the Zulu War. On June 6th, 1879 a Marine Battalion of approximately 1,100 officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the RMLI, and approximately 200 officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the RMA embarked on HM Troopship Jumna for South Africa. The Battalion arrived at Capetown on July 6th. On July 8th, Sir Garnet Wolseley halted the batalion at Cape Town and ordered them to return home.
A battalion of Marines this size would certainly have been force to be reckoned with. Why were they not sent out sooner? Politics, or inter-service jealousy?
Petty Officer Tom