§ MR. PAPILLON
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, What are the respective dates of the embarkation of the two Armstrong Batteries of Royal Artillery for China; of their arrival at Alexandria; of their disembarkation there; and of their re-embarkation at Suez; whether there is any truth in the statement that the Ammunition was seriously damaged, if not entirely spoiled, owing to the defective arrangements on board the Himalaya; and whether any steps have been taken in consequence to insure a sufficient supply of serviceable Powder by the time that the Batteries can be required for action?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that he had on a former occasion explained the cause of the detention of the batteries at the Isthmus. This was owing to unforeseen events interfering with the arrangements the Governor of Bombay had made for their transport from Suez to China. Lord Elphinstone had telegraphed a message proposing to send a vessel to Suez to meet the Himalaya, so as to take the 14th Dragoons; but the reply of the Government, though despatched next day, unfortunately, from an accidental circumstance, did not reach him until he had despatched the 14th Dragoons by sailing ships. Lord Elphinstone then undertook to send the steamer Auckland to Suez for one battery, and engaged with the agent of the Peninsular and Oriental Company at Bombay that one of their steamers should be placed at the disposal of Government at Suez for the other, and subsequently he despatched the Berenice to assist. The Auckland unfortunately broke down at Aden, and was obliged to return to Bombay, and the Peninsular and Oriental Company were unable to comply with their agent's requisition, so that the Berenice was the only vessel from Bombay which reached Suez until the Imperatriz, which had been employed in laying down the electric cable, was finally engaged through the exertions of the agent at Aden and our consul at Alexandria. Now, with respect to the dates. The two bat- 25 teries of Royal Artillery were embarked on board the Himalaya at Southampton on the 15th of January; the Himalaya reached Alexandria on the 29th of January; No 1 battery, 4th brigade, disembarked from the Himalaya on the 11th and 12th of February. The above battery, with three-fourths of its stores, left Suez in the Berenice on the 15th of February, which vessel arrived at Ceylon on the 15th of March all right. The remaining stores of this battery were despatched in the Simla on the 20th of February. The second battery and stores disembarked from the Himalaya on the 9th and 10th of March, and were placed on board the Precursor at Suez, there to await the arrival of the vessel that was to take them. The Imperatriz sailed with the above on the 5th of April. Captain Milward, who commanded the second battery, reported that on opening the limber boxes he found that damp had penetrated into them and damaged the powder; the fusees, however, were in a different part of the ship, and on inspection were found uninjured. The total amount of ammunition with Captain Milward was 112 rounds per gun. A portion of this might be so damaged as to be useless, but sufficient provision had been made against this by sending 812 rounds for each gun of the two batteries in the Khersonese screw steamer on the 26th of January last, which would arrive in China before the battery, in all probability. Independently, therefore, of ammunition already in China, or of what might be sent from Calcutta, whither Captain Milward had written for a fresh supply, there would be 924 rounds for each gun of the two batteries.