15500. (Sir George Taubman-Goldie.) How would you alter the training?
The way I should begin to alter the training would be to abolish the War Office as it stands, and there really to my mind lies the true crux of the question. As long as the War Office exists as it is the Army is tied up in red tape, and the principles of the War Office are nothing but red tape. That instruction is forced down through every rank in the Army.
15501. (Chairman.) You speak with considerable experience of the War Office?
Yes, I know the War Office well; I have been 25 years there, and I have sat at the desk of every clerk in the War Office and gone through his year’s work with him.
15502. Would you explain what that means?
Upon this matter I wrote down a few words, as I thought I could make it shorter if I wrote it beforehand, and I think it will fully explain my meaning : —
“ In the interests of the education of officers the reorganisation of the War Office is an urgent necessity.
“ It is essential there should be a standard organisation of staff work and a standard pattern of staff duty, which officers should look to and learn from. Those standards ought to be found in the War Office. They are not to be found there now, nor ever have been in the past.
“ The work in the War Office is, of its very nature, divisible into two distinct but inter-independent sections: ‘ The Military Policy of the Country ’ and the ‘ Military Government of the Army.’ Under the first head are found the duties of the Secretary of State; under the second those of the Commander-in-Chief. This is the division which Lord Cardwell evidently intended but did not live to create. This also is the reform which was advocated by Lord Hartington’s Committee, though, unfortunately, owing to the adoption of a misleading nomenclature, the excellence of that Committee’s recommendations was never properly appreciated.
“ What they recommended was the appointment of a Chief of the Staff; what they meant to recommend has found happier definition in the phrase ‘intellectual equipment.’
“ No one who studies the inception of the late War can fail to see how seriously the situation was affected by the want of some sort of intellectual equipment for the Secretary of State.
“ On the other hand the Army suffers seriously from the interference of the civilian officials with the authority of the Commander- in-Chief.
“ For the Military Government of the Army the system adopted should be the same Staff system as that which directs an army in the field. This is essential. The present regulations which impose two different systems in peace and war are absurd.
“ To unite the two sections of the reformed War Office the Commander-in-Chief and some of his Staff should be members of the Board of Intellectual Equipment on one side, and the Accountant-General should audit the expenditure of the Military Staff on the other. But I need not go into details. Suffice it that I feel confident that a workable proposal could be put forward which if adopted would train the whole Staff of the Army in time of peace to the duties which must fall to them in war. This is not now the case,
“ It would be difficult to over-estimate the advantage of this training. The great defect at present throughout all ranks of the Army is the want of a sense of the paramount importance of cooperation. I believe this defect to have its origin in the natural resentment of officers against the stringent and inelastic system of red tape and regulations within which they are pent and against which they chafe.
“ Such restrictions necessarily promote rebellion rather than cooperation. All ranks are possessed by the notion that authority is stupid and exists mainly to be outwitted. Officers acquire the idea that it is meritorious to exceed, outstep or evade orders. This works infinite harm. Every mess-table has its stories of how so- and-so snubbed, confuted, or ridiculed the War Office with success.
“ There is scarcely one officer in a hundred who has been taught any rule which would guide him in deciding how to act when confronted by the problem so frequent in war: ‘ I have my orders, but what ought I to do? ’ If he does not evade the problem by inaction, it is a chance if he acts aright; because, owing to his defective training, he acts on the wrong impulse. He does not ask himself how he can best further the operations as a whole, but how he may most plausibly excuse himself, if taken to task.
“ Our officers and men as we recruit them are deficient in ‘hunter’s instinct—too highly civilised, if you will. Some special training to make good that deficiency is now needed. The fundamental principle of this training should be that everyone must understand that he has to fight for the main chance, and not for his own hand. The system of the War Office teaches exactly the reverse. The root of reform must be found there; the War Office should hand over to the Army the funds voted by Parliament and allocated by the Secretary of State, and the Officer Commanding the District should be responsible for those funds and should be accountable for those funds; he should watch their expenditure and account for that expenditure through his staff, and in that way it would be brought down to every man in every rank in the Army that the expenditure of military funds is a matter in which they ought to have a vital interest. At the present moment they are entirely removed from that interest. I have heard a Commander-in-Chief himself say that he did not consider he had the slightest responsibility for expenditure, and it is the same with most of the officers in the Army. The only way in which I think you can get the training for war is through, in the commencement, a financial training; if you make officers responsible first of all for their finance they will gradually become responsible for other things, and they will gradually learn to think.”
15503. (Viscount Esher.) A considerable step has been made in that direction lately?
I should say that every step taken lately has been going backwards.
15504. But in the direction of finance?
I beg your pardon; I think the most retrograde step that has ever been made has been made lately.
16505. I mean in the allocating to the Officers Commanding these new Army Corps a certain sum for which they are to account?
£200 a year, I believe.
15506. They are to have a special confidential branch of the War Office attached to them?
Exactly, that is where the retrograde step is; that is the whole sin and error of the thing in my opinion. Take Aldershot, there is an Army Corps at Aldershot; the First Army Corps; they have nominally thrown dust in the eyes of the public by saying, “Oh, yes, we have handed over to General French the control of the expenditure we have allocated to that Army Corps.” But they have put a Principal War Office Clerk and 16 War Office clerks into an office at Aldershot, and now what is going on at Aldershot? Sir Frederick Stopford can tell you more about that than I can, but according to my belief what is going on at Aldershot is that instead of a man having even to consider (which he had before, and which was some check upon him), “Is this worth writing to the War Office about or shall I do it myself?” he merely runs across the road into the War Office at Aldershot and says, “ Is this all right; will you pass this? ” and the clerk says, “I will pass it.” And the whole need for thought is taken off his shoulders.
15507. We understood that this War Office official who was sent down to Aldershot with his staff of clerks was to be subordinate to General French; that was the impression left on us by the evidence given here, but you understand that is not the case?
You will find that he will be a War Office clerk and will not be subordinate because he goes to a higher power; he does not correspond with French and French alone—if he did so then he would be subordinate, but he corresponds with the War Office who are above French, and therefore he cannot be subordinate to French.
15508. You understand that he would be either in correspondence with the Accountant-General at the War Office or the Financial Secretary, over the head of General French?
16509. (Sir Henry Norman.) He must be, under any circumstances?
He is; but he need not be, because General French ought to do any correspondence.
15510. Then General French would come under the head of a clerk of the War Office?
Yes; but he would get his money, and would deal with it as he liked; he would come under them for review, but he would have spent it.
15511. It would never be contemplated that General French or any other General should have power to spend money according to his own will?
Not according to his own will, but as allocated by the War Office.
15512. (Sir George, Taubman-Goldie.) Would you go so far as to say that the General of a District or an Army Corps should contract with the Government to maintain so many thousand men for a certain sum?
Not at all; the Secretary of State for War in his office would fix the rate of pay for the various branches, and he would tell the man in the district the number of people of each of those branches he would have, and that officer would pay them. All the main channels of expenditure are fixed by numbers and by rates of pay; but when it comes to the flotsam and jetsam of expenditure, I think that the whole of that responsibility should be thrown on the General of the Army Corps. It is in war; he has then to do everything, and why should he not be trained for it? Where you can stop him you do not allow him to do it, but where you cannot stop him you allow him to do it.
15513. I only raise difficulties for you to upset them; but, for instance, as to drafts going to India and men being taken from one district to another, would there not be a difficulty as to which General the expenditure was to be taken by?
The expenditure for drafts is really no expenditure; it is merely putting the men into a ship.
15514. Still, there is expenditure connected with it?
The expenditure is voted for all those drafts, and it is merely a question of putting it in one column or another when it gets to the War Office; say that you have to send out a thousand drafts, and those thousand are coming from ten places, there will be expenditure at each of those ten places for 100 men, we will say; if the War Office takes the money for the 1,000 men, each of those men in the ten different districts will know that he is able to send his 100 men, and it will be put together when the accounts are put together.
15615. My point is that if a fixed sum is allotted to each General, the man who had sent most men away with drafts would undoubtedly have a heavier expenditure thrown upon him than the other men would have?
So he would, but his fixed sum would be an average sum per head of the draft.
15516. You go into detail?
That is how it is done now.
15517. That is the way you object to?
I object to its being done at the War Office, and I do not see why it should be.
15518. Supposing there are six army corps created, would you allocate a fixed sum based on the number of men who are paid, and who belong to the army corps, for each corps?
Yes, I would give the average according to the average expenditure of each of those corps; but if a man reports, “ I have exceeded my Vote for movement of troops by so much because you threw upon me the movement of more drafts than I anticipated, or that you anticipated when you made your average,” that would be set right by the War Office; it would be legitimate expenditure, and would come out of the main Vote.
15519. Could they recover from the other army corps the balance they had unexpended by having less drafts taken from them?
All that is done now by the War Office, and could be done, under the conditions I propose, by the Accountant-General.
15520. But under your system I want to see where it would come in?
It would come in under what I call the Intellectual Equipment Branch; the Accountant-General would do that; the Accountant- General does it for the Navy, and what I propose is very nearly what is the Naval arrangement, that is to say, they give a captain a ship, and they allow an average expenditure for that ship, and then haul him over the coals, not doing him much harm in the process, if in any particular thing he spends too much. He gets an average amount of rope, for instance; he is not tied down to a rope, but on the whole an average is taken by the Accountant- General, and they see that the individual commander does not exceed his proper average according to the work he has to do.
15521. When manoeuvres take place that involves large expenditure of various sorts?
Yes; for that they always have a sort of special grant. When I was Quartermaster-General I devised a system which is still in existence for manoeuvres. You allow the General a lump sum. Before manoeuvres now they telegraph to Aldershot, for example, saying, “We want manoeuvres, and so many men will go from Aldershot.” The General sends up an estimate of £2,000, and he is authorised to spend £2,000. That is the principle upon which the manoeuvres are done now, and I may say that it is a principle which has always been in my head as capable of great expansion.
15522. (Viscount Esher.) Supposing you take the Inspector General of Fortification’s work, for instance, and take, for example, the Second Army Corps, a certain special sum is allotted for barracks and fortifications in the lump; would you propose that Sir Evelyn Wood should have the discretion as to whether he should spend that money on fortifications or barracks, as the case might be?
Oh, no; there again you bring in your Intellectual equipment, and the great benefit the Intellectual equipment would be is that you would get what is very much wanted—a military policy for the Army. We have no office of military policy at the moment, but policy should decide entirely what was to be built and where, and the Second Army Corps would, as now, have its expenditure in works divided into the three heads: all important works, quasi-permanent and smaller works, and maintenance, and the only freedom Sir Evelyn Wood would have would be a certain margin out of maintenance with regard to which somebody would go round and see if he really did keep up the different things he ought to keep up.
15523. (Sir George Taubman-Goldie.) Would you define what you mean by “ military policy ”?
By “military policy” I mean first a certain amount of looking ahead beyond the idea of the moment.
15524. As regards organisation?
As regards organisation, as regards numbers, as regards defence, as regards offence, as regards buildings, as regards comfort of soldiers, as regards recruiting, and the conditions under which soldiers live; all those things require a policy, and they are constantly changing. Somebody comes into the War Office, and one man says, “ If you want recruits you must have warm baths for all the men.” Another says, “If you want recruits you must have dining-rooms, you cannot get on without dining-rooms.” Another man says, “ That is no use; dining-rooms only give the men more fatigues to clean them; you must have cubicles.” Another says something else, and you will see all round barracks these different ideas begun, and then they stop, and then another one begins, and so you go on, and there is nothing to bring those ideas into a policy. There is no permanent office to say, “ Look here, that is all very well; you are all agreed that recreation-rooms are the most important thing at present; do let us finish the recreation-rooms before you go into anything else; we cannot afford more than a certain sum of money every year; nothing else can be done but the recreation-rooms.” That is what I call a policy.
15525. Would you include in it mobilisation schemes, strategy, and intelligence, and all that together, or would that be separate?
“ Intelligence ” is a word used in a funny way.
15526. Then I will use the word information, which I think is better?
The intellectual equipment would deal with military policy only and have nothing to do with the Army; nothing to do with the Commander-in-Chief; it is a question of the Secretary of State for War. When we go to War the Secretary of State for War becomes the most important official in the country, and he ought to have an office which knows all about that, but he has nothing now.
15527. Quite irrespective of the Commander-in-Chief?
Yes, the Commander-in-Chief has more than any man can do in looking after his Army.
15528. (Sir Henry Norman.) Would the evils which exist in any degree be decreased by giving discretion to Officers Commanding Army Corps, because one might be in favour of cubicles and one in favour of something else?
I specially said that all these questions which involve any principle of expenditure would be a matter for the Secretary of State through his Intellectual Equipment.
15529. And that would give no discretion to these Officers Commanding Army Corps?
Not in a question of high policy, and I think they have plenty to do without it. My idea is to introduce a training in independence of thought by a training in financial independence.
15530. (Viscount Esher.) What you mean is that if a man has to pay some ridiculously small sum for some fault, a case which in these days would probably involve no end of correspondence with the War Office, you would allow that to be settled absolutely by the Officer Commanding the Home District?
Yes, I would.
15531. (Sir Henry Norman.) At what point would you bring in the control, because it might not be a very small sum, or it might be larger than anticipated?
The control would come in by the audit and there is this point. It should come in through the General’s own sense; he should think and decide whether he could deal with the question or should refer it. The accounts would be the control and the General who authorised the expenditure would be responsible for all the expenditure he authorised. He is not now; he is responsible for nothing practically in England. He is tied up very much. When he goes to war he is given the national purse to draw on and he has not had the slightest training whatever to enable him to do it properly.
15532. (Sir Frederick Darley.) Therefore you would make the General Commanding the Army Corps, an Accounting Officer?
He would have an accounting officer under him who would keep the accounts.
15533. But he would be responsible for the accounts? I
Yes, not for their accuracy, that would be the Accountant, but for the expenditure.
15534. Would not that take up a good deal of his time which ought to be devoted to the training of his Corps?
I do not think so. There are very few questions; there are regulations and the number of questions which arise is very small.
15535. (Sir John Hopkins) Do the different Generals now of the different Divisions make their own contracts for beef, and coal, and all that kind of thing?
I think not, except at Aldershot, but I could not be certain. I introduced a system at Aldershot when I was Quartermaster- General, under which they were authorised to purchase direct as a training for war.
15536. In fact, your contracts then are all local?
15537. And really carried out by the General Commanding?
Yes, to a greater extent than elsewhere; a good many contracts are made locally for the War Office by the local authorities.
15538. (Viscount Esher.) But over a certain amount I think they have to be referred to the Director of Contracts?
Yes, but they have changed lately, and I will not be certain about the contract question.
15539. (Sir George Taubman-Goldie.) Are these questions of devolution be generals and the institution of a bureau of military policy the only two points on which you insist as to reform?
That is the basis on which I should like reform to commence; if you smother reform by small details it is bad. By giving a certain period every year to the training of troops on strange ground you could teach them a good deal, but I believe myself that round all our stations, if a good deal of the money now spent on moving about troops were allowed to the officer commanding to train the troops where he lived you would get a great deal of very good instruction, provided you had a staff which had studied the subject, and which could go about and show people how to start the training. he has just been reappointed, I understand, but one of the so-called reforms that was made lately was the abolition of the Director of Military Education.
15540. (Chairman.) Have you made any conclusions from the experience of the War about the question of training on the duties of regimental and staff officers?
Yes. At the beginning of a war our staff officers do not know their duties, and the true reason is that they are called upon in what I might call their sedentary duties to administer regulations with which they are absolutely unacquainted, if they have not been previously at war, because the whole regulations of the Army practically change on going to war; the General supersedes the Secretary of State, and the powers of the staff officers under him are very much greater than they are in peace time. Consequently the training they receive in peace time does not fit them for the duties they have to perform in war.
15541. (Sir George Taubman-Goldie.) You are speaking of the Adjutant-General (“A” Department)?
Of all Departments. A good many of the contracts have perhaps formerly been under the Director of Contracts, but when we go to war the officer has to do them himself, and he has not had the opportunity previously of making mistakes, and finding out really what he ought to know.
15542. (Chairman.) How would you rectify that?
I would allow more freedom in peace time; I do not care how strict you keep the supervision, and it could be kept strict in peace time, but it seems to me reasonable to train a man under supervision for the position you know he will have to take up without supervision when he goes to war.
15543. What about regimental officers?
The objection I have to staff officers is the same throughout the Army; independence is not sufficiently studied, and the red tape in fact that is used to tie up the higher officers is also felt by the junior officers for this reason, that the moment you deprive a man in authority of any power of doing individual work he has somehow or another to make his authority felt, and he immediately begins interfering with those below him, and that pressure that comes on at the top is felt throughout the whole Army. It begins in the War Office and as long as the War Office goes on as it is and as long as its duty is always to interfere with and not to encourage any individual action, I am afraid we shall not improve our training.
15544. The company officers did well in the War, did they not?
Yes, as I say, the drill book and teaching of our Army is good, and I think the soldiers have gone as far as they have been allowed to go. In all our garrisons the instruction given within the limits of the instruction possible is good.
15545. As to supplies, were you satisfied?
Yes, I thought on the whole the ration was good and the supplies were good.
15546. And the method of supplying?
The method of supply rather opens the question of the transport, whether you ought to separate the supply from transport, which I believe is advocated now, but personally I always object to separating the responsibility for the wagon from the responsibility for the load it carries.
15547. That means you are in favour of regimental transport?
No, that means I am in favour of making supply and transport one service.
15548. (Sir Henry Norman.) One department?
15549. With one head?
15550. (Chairman.) You have certain definite views about land transport, but have you anything you wish to say about supply?
With regard to supply, I should like to say this, that I do think it is quite right to have only a fixed ration, it is quite right to have as liberal a ration as you can, but the British soldier is very fairly well paid when he is at war, and he generally has more money than he wants, and he usually gambles. If it can possibly be done, it is an enormous advantage to the Army generally to provide the soldier with a certain number of simple luxuries in the way of eatables. According to my experience, the scourge of the Army in the field is either enteric (sometimes called typhoid fever) or dysentery, and the origin of both those diseases is in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred found to be indigestion, and indigestion is provoked and promoted by hungry men getting unsuitable food. Therefore you can save an immense waste of the Army and you can to a great extent lessen your loss by sickness by a certain amount of judicious expenditure, which really need be very small, because it will nearly all be recouped to you out of the men’s pockets. I am convinced myself that I had much less enteric during the two months I was waiting at Ladysmith—-which was just the sort of time after very hard work when men do get enteric—.because I was able to make arrangements to give my men things like Quaker oats, jams, sweets, and different things, especially butter; we were short of vegetables in Natal. The doctors agreed with me, and I had the whole time I was in the field a very effective canteen that we always managed to get up as part of our supply. It was a great boon also for the company officers.
15551. Have you anything to say about the horses?
I did not like the Argentines as a rule; some of them were good, but the best horse we had out there, if he was given a chance to get right, was the English.
15552. (Sir Henry Norman.) Better than the Cape horse?
As a rule, yes; the Cape horse when it came into our Cavalry was not so good as the English horse.
15553. You mean the English horse when acclimatised?
When the English horse was acclimatised and taken care of he did extremely well. I took out two horses, and I used them very hard and brought them home, they are both going on now, and they are as good as the day I took them out to the Cape.
15554. (Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.) Did you find the Canadian horses good?
They were not a great success, I think; some of them were very good, but the proportion of very good ones was small.
15555. Of course, this corps you spoke of lost a great many of their own horses, same two hundred, I think so that they had to get Argentine horses to replace them, I believe?
Yes, I understood that corps was exceptionally well mounted; I know Colonel Steele told me so, and the men were very partial to their own Canadian horses, and, as you say, they did lose a great number in that expedition. They agreed never to think any of the remounts they got as good as their original horses.
15556. (Chairman.) We now come to Land Transport?
Broadly speaking, what I want to say to the Commission about Land Transport is this, that I am in favour of regimental transport and the reason why I am in favour of regimental transport is, that we have in our Army a regimental system for good or for bad. At the present moment it is one we have no chance of getting rid of, and therefore it forms a sort of permanent line of organisation, that it is easier to follow than to depart from. For that reason, I think that in the case of the transport which is directly wrapped up with the comfort of the individual men it is better to make the great divisions of any system suit the divisions that affect the men, and therefore it should be based upon the regimental system. I would like to put in a Paper (the Paper was handed in at Question 15561)—I am afraid you will think it too long to read—which I have written on the transport, and the point on which I have argued is this: we have a system that is the growth of years; we have three times to my knowledge, at any rate, tried the system of a corps of transport, and it has each time broken down in War, and eventually we have evolved the system of regimental transport, with a corps divisible into separate companies, adding its organisation—that is to say, the Army Service Corps. I maintained that system throughout the time I was in Natal with great success. I had no trouble with my transport at all, and I may say that my men were as well led (fed?) as any troops have ever been, chiefly due, if to anything, to the excellence of the transport. But it was broken up on the other side, and they tried a new system; no doubt that was done under great stress, and was not properly thought out beforehand, and could not be, and it broke down; and the different commanders, it appeared to me as I watched, reverted automatically to the nearest approach to the old regimental system that they could get to, and that I think was a proof that the old regimental system had something in it. Now, we are in this position, that the regimental system has been condemned by the highest authority, but no real system has been offered in lieu of it. The only books of Regulations we have got affecting transport, and all our books as to mobilisation, and all our military literature affecting transport are based on the regimental system, if the system is a bad one, there should be new books at once, and if the system is not a bad one we should use those books, but it cannot be right to keep those books and to allow even the temporary arrangements that have been made now for Volunteers and Militia in England; those books, are all based on the regimental system, and that cannot be right if the system itself is bad. At the large stations they are commencing to attack the system at the top because they are dividing the supply and transport, and they are appointing two Staff officers to do the work where formerly there was only one; Directors of Supply and Directors of Transport are being appointed to all these Army Corps, but to my mind they are not wanted.
15557. Did you maintain the regimental system throughout with your troops?
Entirely; curiously enough (I think I am justified in quoting it), when I was in Pretoria in October, Lord Kitchener told me there were only two columns that had proper transport, mine and Lord Methuen’s, and I could not help replying, “ lies, and do you know why? Because they are the only two that kept regimental transport."
15558. (Sir Frederick Darley.) What system of transport did you adopt in the large engagements you had on the Tugela, for instance the Spion Kop engagement?
I had hardly anything but oxen at that time; I left all the mules at the Cape for the advance through the Orange Free State, and I requisitioned ox transport in Natal for my operations in Natal.
15559. Was that a regimental transport or a combined transport?
Regimental transport; the wagons were issued upon the system in our text books upon the regimental system.
15560. For instance, you had a number of regiments engaged there; did each regiment take its own transport to the front, or were they all combined together?
A portion was combined and a portion remained with the regiments. In the paper which I have already referred to (Vide Question 15561) and which will appear as part of my evidence, I have sketched what regimental transport is, and perhaps you would like me to read that, but practically it comes to this, that regimental transport, properly so called, is divided into two. There is a first line transport, and I believe nobody has ever proposed that that should not be regimental; that is what I call the fighting transport. It carries the ammunition, the entrenching tools, the medical stores belonging to the regiment, the signalling equipment, and the machine gun or guns, and that is all. That is the first line of transport, and wherever the regiment goes that must go with it; the medical things are wanted for immediate treatment in the field, and the signalling apparatus, machine guns and ammunition are also wanted. Then there is the second line of transport, which is also regimental, and that is a certain number of wagons according to what you are going to carry. It contains always one day’s and sometimes more days’ rations for the men of the regiment, and in the regiment it is subdivided for the men according to companies, and also carries their tents, their blankets, and their cooking things. So that the regiment, as a regiment, has always with it its transport for its immediately-required fighting things, and sufficient to keep it going in health for the number of days that the general officer in chief command thinks it will be required to be self-supporting. Behind that there is what we call the Army Service Corps Supply Column, and that 'belongs not to the regiment but to the brigade, and that, again, is filled up from what is called the Supply Park, and that belongs not to a brigade but to a division. If you have any more you have the auxiliary transport formed by the Army Service Corps.
15561. (Chairman.) Will you now put in the paper which you have prepared? Yes, it is as follows : —
“ It is impossible to offer any remarks on the transport system of our Army in the late South .African War without reference to the criticisms passed by Lord Roberts upon the system which existed by regulations at the commencement of that War. They are to be found in his despatch dated, Cape Town, 6th February, 1900, and in the long report on Transport attached to his despatch dated, War Office, 24th January, 1901.
“In the former document Lord Roberts, speaking of the existing system as the ‘ Regimental System,’ complained (1) that no organised Transport Corps existed when he arrived in South Africa; (2) that some thousands of mules had been collected, and a number of ox and mule wagons purchased, but that the system upon which they had been distributed, though it might answer for peace manoeuvres, was quite unsuitable for extensive operations in a country where all necessaries required by the Army have to be carried for a considerable distance; (3) that the system was extravagant.
“ In the later document there are signs that the Commander-in- Chief’s judgment had undergone considerable modification, and that his forcible condemnation of the system which he found in existence had given place to an argumentative defence of the alternative system which he introduced.
“ It was unfortunate that neither Lord Roberts nor Lord Kitchener nor Colonel Sir W. Nicholson, who soon after landing was appointed Major-General Director of Transport, had any previous knowledge of the conditions affecting South African wheeled transport. The War Office system which they overthrew had been built on the experience of a century’s campaigns, and was especially designed to meet South African difficulties; and the criticism that ‘There was no organised Transport Corps in existence,’ disregards all the lessons of that experience. During the last hundred years the British Army has tried at least three Corps of Transport, and has abandoned each of them in disgust. To students of transport matters these expensive failures of the past, the Royal Wagon Train,’ the Land Transport Corps’ and the ‘Military Train’ are now merely milestones on the road to progress. Guided by past failures the Mobilisation Branch, at the War Office had devised a system on lines suited to the idiosyncrasies of our Army. Anyone who has ever studied Army reform well knows how greatly reform could be facilitated if our Regimental System could be disregarded or abolished. But that system has grown up with the growth of the Army; it permeates and affects every detail of military organisation; it cannot be disregarded nor abolished; and if the system of transport at all deserves the designation of a ‘Regimental System,’ it is mainly because it was adjusted to our regimental organisation. In many respects, however, it was not in any sense regimental. Bet us first examine what the War Office system was. It was sub-divided as follows : —
" (A) Regimental Transport.—This was transport allocated to regimental units, but by regulation available for general transport purposes, whenever military requirements demanded it. Regimental transport was divided into two divisions—(1) First Line Transport, or, as I think it should be called, Fighting Transport. This was for the carriage of ammunition, entrenching tools, first- aid medical stores, signalling equipment, and machine gun or guns. (2) Second lane Transport, or, as I think it should be called, Subsistence Transport. This was for the carriage of one or more days’ rations for men and forage for animals, blankets, regimental equipment, baggage, tents, etc. The waggons of the Second Line Transport were so arranged that the number of days’ rations carried per company or minor unit could be increased at will by diminishing the stores and equipment. Thus, e.g., if tents or blankets were left behind their equivalent weight in rations could be carried.
“ (B) The Army Service Corps Supply Column.—This was of varying strength, but carried at least one day’s ordinary and one day’s emergency rations for every man, and at least one day’s forage for every animal in the unit. (N.B.—Unit in this case means divisional troops, a brigade, corps troops, etc.) The Supply Column thus formed the first reserve, and was the connecting link with the Supply Park (O).
“ (C) The Supply Park.—I prefer the German word, ‘Rolling Magazines.’ This carried at least three days’ rations and forage in rear of the force, but might be increased, in accordance with circumstances, to carry any number of days’ food that the exigencies of the situation, the nature of the operations, or the state of the country, might require.
“ (D) An Auxiliary Transport formed into companies under Army Service Corps Supply and Transport officers. In South Africa these companies were to consist, for ox-transport, of about 100 ox- waggons with a maximum carrying power of about 600,0001bs. divided into sections of 10 and sub-sections of five waggons, each under mounted European conductors and sub-conductors, and, for mule transport, of 40 mule waggons with about 400 mules. Each mule company had a military company-staff with a proportion of wheelers, saddlers, and shoeing-smiths for each section, and was divided into four sections of 10 waggons each under European conductors.
“ Note.—It is necessary to note that in addition to the above classes of transport there was another large and important one in South Africa. This was the ‘ Technical Transport,’ that is to say, the vast transport (chiefly mule, but in part ox) for the Royal Artillery ammunition columns, for Royal Engineer telegraph, bridging and pontoons, balloons, etc.; for the medical units for their ambulances, field hospitals and equipment, and for the Naval Brigade for their heavy guns. All of this had been supplied on the full scale to the different units concerned before Lord Roberts landed. In a European war this transport, the medical excepted, would not be supplied by any Transport Department nor by the Army Service Corps, being already a part of the organisation of the unit and, provided for in the war establishments, or in other words ‘ regimentally’ (The Naval Brigade, of course, is excepted.)
“ It is claimed that the guiding principles of this carefully elaborated system were (1) Decentralisation of administration by the formation of handy transport units under the immediate command of those directly interested in their efficiency. (2) Establishment of a chain of responsibility. Every commander of a unit, i.e., of a company, battalion, brigade, or division had direct charge of a portion of that unit’s food supply. (3) Interdependence of supply and transport. Nothing is more fatal than to hold one man responsible for a waggon and another for its load. (4) Elasticity, or almost automatic expansion or contraction into units of any size, equipped with each class of transport. The addition or deduction of any unit to or from a brigade, equipped as it would be with its own regimental transport, merely necessitated the corresponding addition or deduction of a proportionate carrying power to or from the supply column and supply park respectively by the senior Army Service Corps officer. His responsibility for both services, supply as well as transport, was thoroughly established and understood.
“Such in briefest outline was the ‘War Office system’ arrived at through countless changes, the result of the experience of many campaigns, carefully worked out by the Mobilisation branch, understood by every staff officer who had studied his profession and the A.B.C. of the Army Service Corps Officer. It was in working order, and had received universal approval from the Army in South Africa until Lord Roberts’ arrival.
“ On the other hand what was the system that replaced it? All transport animals, vehicles, and personnel (except the regimental small-arm-ammunition-carts and machine guns), including even the Technical Transport with Royal Artillery, Royal Engineer and Medical units, were withdrawn and formed into transport companies of 520 mules and 1,600 oxen respectively, under Army Service Corps officers and others.
“ As the commissioned and subordinate personnel of the Army Service Corps were insufficient to find the staff for these companies it became necessary to add to each Army Service Corps transport-company thus formed another of equal strength, and to divide between them the subordinate military personnel. These newly-formed companies were handed over to the command of any officer who could be found, Regular, Militia, Volunteer, or Colonial,. while the accountability for both was to remain with the Army Service Corps Captain. As demand for more transport kept increasing, attempts were made again and again to divide and sub-divide the personnel. These efforts at sub-division continued until the staff to be divided fell to unity or zero. Originally it was intended that these companies, of one uniform strength, should lend to the several units of all branches the vehicles and animals required for the day, withdrawing them into one camp for the personal supervision of the company-officer after each march. The impracticability of such a system became at once apparent. It was abandoned perforce, and the idea of a uniform establishment became a stumbling block. In the result brigades, columns, etc., had to be supplied with transport wholly or in part from one or more transport companies. Odds and ends of transport were left without a home. Headquarters Staffs of transport-companies found themselves with a few odd waggons— possibly part mule, part ox—with no transport to look after and no troops to serve, because all their vehicles, animals, and drivers had been distributed elsewhere. Various expedients were tried, though with indifferent success, to remedy these defects, and moving Transport Depot Companies were formed from any odd personnel that could be discovered, to sweep up the floating fragments and form them into new companies.
“The sudden abolition of the existing tables caused considerable inconvenience. True, some new tables were published, but they were incomplete and were furnished too late. The result was that every Commander took what he could get and generally a great deal more than he was entitled to. Supply Columns having been omitted as an integral part of the new transport-system, Commanders knowing that they had no reserve behind them, took with them, whenever they could, huge trains of transport which seriously compromised their mobility and military efficiency. Moreover, since under the War Office system the Supply Column was really the Supply and Transport Company of the units to which it belonged, its abolition involved the separation of the whole personnel and equipment of supply from the unit.
“ It is not an unfair criticism of the new system to say that it failed to attain the centralised responsibility at which it aimed.
“ It divided supply and transport, and dislocated both services.
“ It swept away all basis of calculation of transport requirements and destroyed the elasticity that was inherent in the existing system.
“ It substituted for the direct responsibility of the regimental transport officer and his commanding officer the uncertain responsibility of a transport-officer, who might or might not be an expert. Usually he was not, and frequently he was not even present with his charge. As soon as the force took the field, the theory of close or constant supervision of the transport by the Transport Company-Commander failed, except in rare cases, to pass into practice. His vehicles, animals, etc., were parcelled out to various units, and he often had no idea where to look for the transport for the efficiency of which he was supposed to be responsible.
“ Army orders themselves proved the defects of the new system. First, the Bearer Companies were completed to their original 10 ambulances, according to the War Office system. Then the Field Hospitals were reconstructed according to the War Office system. Ammunition Columns were re-created distinct and separate units according to the War Office system. Finally, on the 19th and 21st May, 1900, Army Orders re-appointed Regimental Transport officers and sergeants according to the War Office system. In fact, attempts were made to restore as far as possible the framework of the carefully devised scheme of transport which had been so hastily destroyed.
“ When Lord Roberts landed at Cape Town every unit in the country was complete with its full scale of transport, and ox- transport sufficient for the supply park of an army was ready to be placed wherever it might be required. In fact, early in January not fewer than 15,000 draught and pack mules were actually with the troops, and in addition to them about 1,000 ox-waggons with 16,000 oxen were echeloned on the three lines of advance. It must not be forgotten that until Lord Roberts landed, the original plan of campaign, namely, an advance along the western, midland, and eastern lines on Norval’s Pont and Bethulie Bridges had never been cancelled, and that the only telegram from Lord Roberts which gave any indication of his intentions seemed expressly to confirm these lines of advance. The transport was laid out to conform with this scheme. Roughly speaking, half of it was on the western line, and the other half divided as equally as possible between the midland and eastern lines. The all-important considerations of veldt, water, and immunity from infected beasts and disaffected men naturally governed the choice of positions for these concentrations. Unfortunately a large number of the six or seven thousand mules (not included in the 15,000 with the troops) in the various remount depots were sick (some 3,000 stallion mules having very unfortunately been sent from Italy), and the provision of vehicles and harness had not kept pace with that of mules. Notwithstanding all these difficulties sufficient transport was ready for the advance on Bloemfontein, before the troops were ready for the transport. That advance was apparently accompanied by only 11,362 mules and 9,778 oxen, numbers considerably less in mules than those previously actually in possession of the troops, and leaving a large number of reserve oxen.
“ The debut of the new transport system was marked by the total loss of a convoy of 200 waggons, the whole of which fell into the hands of a small force of Boers at De Kiel’s Drift. The result was well-nigh disastrous to the army in front. Orders for a retirement are said to have been actually written; and there can be little doubt that the expedition would have had to halt, if not to retreat, but for the fact that the Cavalry division had not adopted the new transport system. Consequently the Cavalry supply column was able to save the situation, though the men suffered great hardships and were only kept alive by the offer of £I reward for every beast they could seize. I do not want to press the argument unfairly, but it is my conviction that a loss of this extent could not have occurred under the old system. Centralisation of responsibility had destroyed individual responsibility. Subordinate generals were not answerable for supplies beyond those with their immediate unit
“ The whole question is one of immense importance. If the regimental—or War Office—transport system be so wrong and unworkable that it has to be upset at the most critical moment of a campaign, then the work of mobilisation that has been carried on in the British Army for many years, and is still being carried on, is obviously wrong and vicious. There is hardly a pamphlet or book of regulations connected with mobilisation that should not be torn up, and the whole care and labour for many years of the mobilisation branch should be thrown into the waste paper basket.”
15562. The only other point you were to speak to was the medical and engineer services?
I wanted to emphasise the fact with regard to the medical service that I thought a very grave mistake was made during the debates that took place in the House of Commons upon the medical service. In giving the number of beds in the field the War Office always included what are called the field hospitals. That is really the mobile equipment that follows the Army in the field for the immediate treatment of men after they are received from the Dressing Station. They are called a hundred beds each, but they have only a limited number of stretchers, and the essence of them is that they should be empty; so that when speaking in the House of Commons of accommodation which has been made for the sick, and the Army is fighting in the field, it is wrong to include the number of nominal beds belonging to these field hospitals, because they ought only to be full the day after an engagement or for as many days as it may be found impossible to evacuate them. Practically speaking, in a well-organised campaign they should never be full more than a day, and most days of the week they should be empty. I think that the mistake made is that as a rule we have sent out too little hospital equipment at the beginning; they have counted these field hospitals as beds when they were really not beds. Secondly, it is very much overlooked by our medical officers that you cannot depend upon making a hospital anywhere, and saying, “ I have got a general hospital of 200 beds, and 200 beds are sufficient for a force of, say, 2,000 men”; because the men are being reinforced by drafts, and although the force is kept up at the same numbers, there are many more men coming through the ranks, and therefore through the hospitals than those hospitals are made to carry. In our oversea wars we should provide very much more transport for evacuating our base hospitals than has been the custom. I should have been smothered in Natal had II not at my own instance provided five hospital ships; and they were hardly enough. I got hold of the best ships I could find among the transports, and had them converted at Durban into hospital ships, and consequently I kept my hospitals always fairly free, and most of the time, except immediately after the relief of Ladysmith, I had my men very comfortable. It was done by getting the men away, and it is far better for a sick man, no matter what the journey is, to get him put on board ship, and sent home than to have him at a convalescent depot pining his heart out and doing nothing in some small place in the country in which he ought to be fighting. The two points I want to emphasise are that there should be enough beds, irrespective of field hospitals, provided in any future campaign, and that the provision for moving men should be much more liberal.
15563. Were you satisfied with the medical service?
Yes, I thought the medical service was good. I thought our nursing service was indifferent. Our nurses I thought badly trained and poor. They are not regular nurses.
15564. Are you speaking of the women?
Yes. I thought on the whole—and I really think I exercised as much supervision as it was possible for any general to have exercised—the medical service was good, some of the hospitals were splendid, and some of the hospitals were of course not quite so good, but they were all good. We got rid of our wounded and sick very well, and I think with comparative comfort. There were the usual complaints, but nothing much, and there was really no very bad discipline case that occurred at all in connection with the hospital. On the whole I thought the men were well taught.
15565. (Sir Henry Norman.) These nurses of whom you speak as not being well trained were not regular Army Nurses?
Yes, they were Army nurses; I thought the Army nurses were indifferent. You examined Sir Frederick Treves the other day, did you not?
15566. (Chairman.) Yes?
Did he not say that?
15567. No, I think he spoke very highly of the nurses?
I should like you to examine Miss McCaul on that point. She was one of the two nurses that Sir Frederick Treves brought out with him, the other died. I do not think our female nursing system is as good as it should be, because I think our nurses are above their work. Their training is more to do small odd jobs for the comfort of this or that patient than to nurse. That is my general impression.
15568. (Sir Henry Norman.) To carry out your view would involve an immense increase of the establishment?
I think in war you can always get lots of nurses.
15569. But these nurses under the Army Rules have to be three years in a civil hospital before they can be taken on probation and then they have to be tried on probation for some time and accepted, and after that they are employed on general duties?
Yes, but all those nurses should be quite capable of superintending a hospital equipped with what I might call journeywoman- nurses. I do not for a moment suppose we ought to keep up in peace time an establishment of nurses that would be required in war, but I do not think we insist on the nurses we do keep performing duties which would make them able to take the position I think they ought to take in war.
15570. Is not your idea rather that they should perform what I may call a lower kind of duties than is allotted to them now; for instance, the Army Hospital Corps men are supposed to do all things for the men connected with washing and personal attention?
Yes, and they do, and do it on the whole very fairly well.
15571. You would not give that to the nurses?
No, but I would give the superintendence of it to the nurses; the nurses should know how to do it as they have been taught, and how to teach the men to do it if the men had not been taught before; she should be more of a nurse.
15572. They have gone through that in the civil hospitals during the three years when they perform very menial duties?
I do not say they do not know, but I say I do not think they do it. I was not satisfied, I confess, with our military nurses, and I thought that the hospitals where the civil nurses were taking the lead were more comfortable.
15573. (Chairman.) Had you Army nurses?
A certain number. But I am also speaking of our hospitals at home.
15574. This is what Sir Frederick Treves said: “ (Q.) Was there not in that force a regular establishment of nurses? (A.) No. (Q.) And was your opinion of the nurses satisfactory? (A.) All that I came across were excellent; I could not speak too highly of all the nurses I came across all down the line?”
That is nurses not of the regular establishment.
15575. (Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.) There were two classes or nurses, I garnered, sisters and nurses, the sisters being of a superior grade, and more of the class of superintendents than the others?
I believe that is so, but I did not understand myself the distinction between the two. I think they were all sisters.
15576. Not only Sir Frederick Treves, but Professor Ogston who saw much of them spoke in very high terms of them?
I do not want to say anything against any individual nurse as I thought they were very good, but as regards our female system, I say that in Natal, and also at home, I thought it left a good deal of room for improvement, and I do not think our military nursing- sisters took, in Natal, a position which was of the same advantage to the sick men as in some cases was done alongside them by the civil nurses. I should like to add that I see it is proposed to divide the Royal Army Medical Corps into sections, each section of which is to have its particular mission. I should be sorry myself to see that done, except upon an understanding that all the sections would begin with the same ground work. I think it is essential that all men who are connected with hospital attendance should be taught the duties of hospital attendance as a distinct duty. It is a great advantage that some of them should cook, and it is a great advantage that some of them should do other things, but I think that after their first-aid training the next important thing is the training in hospital attendance. You never know when you may have to use men for that, and it is a duty that is of the first importance.
15577. (Sir Henry Norman.) I think there is some mistake as to some of the evidence given a day or two ago; the Army Nursing Department, besides the Matron-in-Chief, consists of a certain number of superintendent nurses, and all the others are nursing sisters?
15578.There is nobody under them; they are the ones who have been taken in as trained in civil hospitals for three years, and then on probation, but the whole number of nursing sisters for the whole Army is about 75 or 80, so that it is quite obvious that it is inadequate to furnish nurses in war time; for instance, Natal had eight or nine nursing sisters, and it had during the war very often 1,000 patients?
I think those nursing sisters are not made to take the position they ought to take in a military hospital. They would be at the top of any defined establishment created during a war, and they did not seem to me to be able to fill the position as well as I thought they should have been able to. I do not want to say anything against them, and many of them worked extremely well, but I was disappointed with the way in which, being called to a rather high position, they undertook it. As I am on hospitals, may I tell one story, a very short one, which shows the defect of our military arrangements and the defect of our military education. It happened to me at Ladysmith. I was endeavouring at the moment to provide for the evacuation of the Intombi Hospital, which had 2,500 patients in it, and I had created a temporary hospital out of the old barracks at the other end of the town. There was very great difficulty about bedding, there was much of the bedding they did not like to bring out of the old hospital; everything in Ladysmith had been taken to Intombi, and I went round the new hospital one morning and found that a good many of the fever patients had no beds, nothing but one blanket to lie on. I swept Natal with telegrams, and got a train up by the end of the week with as many mattresses as I could possibly get— bought, begged, or borrowed. As I was going to Church on Sunday morning I saw the wagons coming from the station with these mattresses, and I sent and found out that they were the mattresses for the hospital. I did not go to the hospital again until the next Monday week, eight days afterwards, and there was exactly the same situation that I had seen 10 days before, the men were all lying there without beds, and I said to the doctor in charge, “ How is this? Where are those beds? ” ; his answer was “ We have not got any, sir ”; I said, “ I saw them come last Sunday week, why have you not got them?” He said, “I have not got them.” I then said, “You have your own transport, why do you not send for them?” “I sent for them, sir.” “Why have you not got them?” “They would not issue them.” And the fact was this, that according to the War Office Regulations, in a garrison hospital bedding is a barrack-supply, and is accounted for by the barrack- master, but in the field it is supplied by the Ordnance Department, and for the whole of those eight days the head of the Ordnance Department and the head of the Barrack Department in Ladysmith had been fighting over which of the two should take these beds on their books and issue them to the hospital, and during that time the patients had been kept on the ground. That is War Office training
15578. (Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.) I might have a little diffidence in asking you the question I am about to put, except that I know my object in doing so will not be misunderstood. You have said, I think, that as to Strathcona’s Horse, a body of about 600 men, they did good service; they were with you during the whole of your command after Ladysmith?
After the 18th June.
15579. They did good service and they were fortunate in having a good officer in command, Colonel Steele?
15580. And I think you said also that their discipline was excellent?
Yes, I did say so.
15581. The reason for my asking you is that Colonel Steele and all the officers, 20 or 25 of them, were Canadians—colonists?
15582. It has been said here that the officers in the Colonial Corps, or the chief officers, should without exception be from the British Army, but these were all Canadians, and you were satisfied with them in every way?
Yes, Lord Strathcona, and as you have brought that point up in that manner, I must say I was perfectly satisfied, and no officer ever had a better corps under his command than I had in Strathcona’s Horse, but on the general question that you referred to you must recollect that Colonel Steele was himself an officer of a sort of regular corps.
15583. Of the North-West Mounted Police?
Yes, and had been trained as an officer of police, and therefore he was very superior as an officer to the ordinary run of chance Colonial whom one picked up and put in.
15584. I merely put the question from its having been said that the officers of the Colonial Corps should be from the British Army. I gave that as one instance, at any rate, where the officers did their duty well, and to your entire satisfaction, all being Colonials?
Yes, I met several Colonial officers who were trained as officers in the Colonies, who were excellent officers; but I think what must have been meant by the evidence you referred to were the Colonial officers of irregular corps who had never been trained as officers.
15585. The training the officer I refer to had was all in Canada, in the Militia or Police there?
15586. (Sir George Taubman-Goldie.) I. have only one further question to ask you. One witness after another who comes here says it is essential to get more independence of action and individuality among officers and men. The only step you have suggested towards that end is devolution to Generals in districts; how do you propose to get more initiative and more independence? What steps can you take?
By giving it.
15587. In what way?
If you occupy the General with thinking about what he himself has to do, he is to a certain degree relieved of thinking how he can find fault with what the man underneath him is doing. I admit it is a gradual thing, and you can only do it by gradual training.
15588. How would you give initiative to the field officers, commanders of companies, and subalterns?
Our present training is a training of interference, and that has to be amended, and the only means I can think of for amending it is by removing interference at the top, not the bottom. It is all very well to say that the subaltern does not interfere with the sergeant, but he has nothing else to do, as the captain is always interfering with him, and I would take it off at the top.
15589. It does not seem to me to follow that a certain amount of devolution from the War Office to districts, would be a cure?
I did not say anything about devolution from the War Office; I wanted to let the War Office manage its own affairs. It was to be a devolution, as I want the Army to manage its own affairs. I want every man to be responsible for his own work, and I think they will gradually fix their own spheres and do their own work; at present they create a sphere by interfering with the men below them.
15590. There seems little use to recommend that there should be more initiative among junior officers, unless one can put forward suggestions as to how that is to be arrived at; it is difficult to see any practical way of doing it?
I will send you a document on the subject. [The document was subsequently sent]
15591. (Sir John Hopkins.) I should like to ask one simple question on the subject of training: Do you think the training grounds that are established at Aldershot and Salisbury will give a fair chance of training the men in what you would like to see them trained to, field work and the irregularities of the country? Is the extent of the country sufficient, and are the surroundings sufficient to enable the men to be trained as you would like to see them trained in individual action, scouting, and so on?
Unfortunately a policy has gradually been adopted of filling up the training grounds at Aldershot and Salisbury, with barracks, and I must say myself, I regret it. I think any strange ground, except it is quite flat, would give the opportunity for training, but if a regiment lives in a place they learn at once each tactical point, and the whole thing is a race for a point, and therefore the training on any ground, however good, is very much lessened by the troops having the opportunity of really knowing it well. I should like to see much more outdoor work done, and much less attention paid to the actual dinner-hour in barracks, wherever barracks are. I am sure you could train men very well at a very small Expense in their own barracks, and we have of late years by small manoeuvres in the different stations done a great deal to perfect the lower class training of the men, and then let the regiment go—supposing it only went once in three years it is a training for the officers—to some large place like Salisbury Plain.
15592. It has been suggested here that the only way to get a really good sound training with a large number of soldiers is to send a large Division to South Africa or to Canada?
I do not believe it. I at one time had the honour of belonging to what was then said to be the best trained regiment in the British Army, and they were trained by the Colonel almost in their own barrack rooms.
15593. At any rate you may hope for really efficient training if attention is given to the training in the places where they are now quartered?
I believe so ; I believe if you were to start a really efficient system of training, and to follow it up by a really efficient system of inspection to see that the idea of the training was thoroughly appreciated and thoroughly understood throughout the different districts, you would in a very few years have as good a system of training as you require, given a certain quantity of open ground; but piling a large number of troops for four days at a time in the most uncomfortable positions upon open ground and asking them to manoeuvre under impossible conditions is not training, neither do you give them the time; they ought to go over the whole thing and be taught how to do it. It is teaching, a time for teaching, and insistence on teaching that we want.
15594. (Sir George Taubman-Goldie.) Does that involve more money?
I really do not think so ; I do not think it would involve quite so much. It is the old story, we want a system—systematic teaching.
15595. (Sir John Hopkins.) Have you any fault to find with the plan by which the officers of companies got a very few of their men for drilling at a time, as we have heard that the troops have duties of all sorts which so occupy the men that they never can get half a company together?
That is quite true, but it can be met; it was met at Aldershot, and for many years, long before I went there, by a system of keeping certain units off duty, and then those units have to keep certain companies off duty, and so you can get them up to full strength, but I think myself that the weak point of our present training is that we try to train off the barrack square too small units—each company is too small.
15697. Have you any views as to the Commanding Officers of Companies paying money, and having general charge of the accounts in the field?
Yes, I have written a long paper on the subject which, I believe, is in print in the War Office, but, speaking generally, I wanted to give every officer commanding a company a small book in the field so that he could pay his men, and each man would sign for what he got, the whole of the accounts being kept behind at the base, which could easily be done.
15598. I daresay you know there have been many complaints of the breakdown of the system?
The system has always broken down for the very reason that it is no system. We pay in peace time on an enormous sheet that it is impossible to take in the field, and if you do you cannot keep it up because the whole thing is paid in one account. I suppose at the Cape we had very nearly as many camp attendants and camp followers, such as drivers and people of that kind, as we had soldiers; every man had his own book, and he was paid without trouble at all.
16599. (Sir Frederick Darley.) What time in each year is allotted to the soldiers’ field work?
From about the middle of January to the middle of October, generally.