27 MAY 1905, Page 12




SIR,—The following notice of a Motion in the House of Commons will be of interest to many of your readers :— "Monday, 29th May.

Sir Howard Vincent,—Volunteers (Service outside United King- dom),—Address for Return showing—

(1) The number of Volunteer units and the number of officers and men serving in each unit on the 1st day of November 1899: (2) The number of units which volunteered as units for service outside the United Kingdom, or for permanent embodiment in the United Kingdom, at any time between October 1899 and June 1902, but whose services were not accepted : The number of individual officers and men in each unit who (a) volunteered for service in South Africa; (b) Actually went to South Africa, whether with the Volunteer Service Companies, or as enlisted in the Imperial Yeomanry, the Regular Army, the Militia, or in Colonial Irregular Corps : (4) The number of officers and men, if any, in the Volunteer Force who, having been called upon to serve in South Africa, refused to do so."

It is greatly to be hoped that the Return asked for will be granted, in view of Mr. Arnold-Forster's extraordinary assertion that the response of the Volunteers to the call

which be declares to have been made upon them to serve in South Africa was very meagre. The figures asked for are, of course, those an advance section of which you kindly published for me recently in the Spectator. But the facts which I have attempted to demonstrate privately will obviously gain immensely in weight if they are put on record in an official Return, and the whole Volunteer Force is greatly in Sir Howard Vincent's debt for the action he has taken. It seems to be the impression just now at Pall Mall that unless individual Volunteers will enter upon enrol- ment into a written engagement to serve indefinitely abroad in time of war, the Volunteer Force cannot be relied upon as a Reserve for the Regular Army. I venture to think that no honest man in civil employ could possibly bind himself in such a manner for the unknown future. But the publication of the official Return now asked for will, I hope, convince those who doubt the lengths to which, when a definite emergency arises, the patriotism of the civil population will

go, by demonstrating beyond question that for the South African War, at any rate, we could, had we really desired it, have got all the men we wanted from a force which is legally bound only to serve in the case of invasion.

May I add that if the War Office find any difficulty in pre- paring the Return, I shall be happy to place at their disposal the figures which I have myself received from all but fifty corps in the United Kingdom P—I am, Sir, &c.,


[We agree with our correspondent that it would be most unwise—nay, pernicious—to try to force the Volunteers in the abstract and in time of peace, and so with no definite national emergency in sight, to pledge themselves to serve oversea. If they are now asked to give such a pledge, we are convinced that the response will be meagre. We are equally convinced that in the event of war, and when a national emergency has actually arisen, the Volunteers will supply us with some eighty thousand men. If we try to force a pledge from them while we are at peace, we shall be misled and disappointed. The force is composed of just the type of men who will not volunteer for foreign service in peace, but will do so in time of war.—En. Spectator.]