11 NOVEMBER 1899, Page 13


[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."' SIR,—The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty who made such a keen inspection of the naval depots at Sheerness and Chatham, on the occasion of their annual visit to these ports, can hardly have failed to notice the splendid contingent of engineering ratings—consisting of nearly four hundred engine-room artificers and over one thousand stokers—who are still classed as "non-combatants" (sic) of our British Navy, but who were not one whit behind their gallant brethren in blue, either in appearance, in physique, or in smartness of action and drill. It must surely have occurred to Mr. Goschen what a practical commentary they afforded upon his quarter-century-old remarks anent the engineering branch of the Navy and his advocated necessity for its reorganisation upon combatant lines. Nor can the occasion have failed to impress upon his colleagues the value of these men—who have done so much to make our modern Navy what it is—in the calculation of available material for naval contingents, on occasions other than those of twenty-one knots under steam. If thesonsideration of the twenty-five thousand officers and men of the engineering department, as an integral part in the composition of a homogeneous and fighting Navy—rather than as members of "an alien pro- fession in the Service, but not of it "—be the outcome of their

Lordships' visits, they will have provoked a keen spirit of emulation and esprit de corps in a branch of the Navy, too long snubbed and neglected, which cannot but add to the credit of the Service and the strength of the country.—! arn,