I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any information to give the House with respect to the desertion of men of the West African Regiment from Coomassie; how many soldiers remain there, and whether he anticipates any disturbance.
Between 400 and 500 men of the West African Regiment, which is a regiment raised in Sierra Leone and employed temporarily during the disturbance in Ashanti, deserted from Coomassie and proceeded to Cape Coast. The Governor reports that they have done no damage, and that he is sending them to Sierra Leone. They were to have been sent back in January to Sierra Leone, but the half battalion of the Central African Regiment by which they were to have been relieved was detained at the Gambia. The operations on the Gambia have now been finished, and the Central African Regiment is proceeding to the Gold Coast. Coomassie is garrisoned by the Gold Coast Constabulary, but the exact strength of the garrison is not known. I have not heard of any disturbance among the tribes round Coomassie.
Is there any allegation of a grievance on the part of the men who mutinied?
Certainly. The grievance of the men of the West African Regiment is that they were not sent home to Sierra Leone at the time at which it was understood they were to be released, and the reason they were not released is that the outbreak of disturbances on the Gambia, in which the French and ourselves were concerned, kept back a regiment there.