The Kitchener Memorial and HMS “Hampshire” Commemorative Wall
In Birsay, the Orkney Mainland’s north-westmost parish, there sits a memorial, inscribed:
“This tower was raised by the people of Orkney in memory of Field Marshal Earl Kitchener of Khartoum on that corner of his country which he had served so faithfully nearest to the place where he died on duty. He and his staff perished along with the officers and nearly all the men of HMS Hampshire on 5 June 1916.“
What is not told by this simple and evocative structure is that only 12 men survived the sinking and some 736 other men lost their lives in terrible conditions along with Lord Kitchener, meaning a total loss of life of 737 souls.
Orkney Heritage Society has changed this to better remember those who died.
We restored the Kitchener Memorial to its original condition, and built an arc-shaped HMS Hampshire commemorative wall alongside. The wall is of local stone, inlaid with granite on which the names of all 737 men lost are engraved.
The restored memorial and the commemorative wall were officially unveiled at events to mark the centenary of the loss on 5 June 2016.
To help commemorate the centenary, twelve authors with local knowledge have pooled their expertise to sort fact from fiction with an objective review of the many books, press cuttings and copious unpublished records now available.
The book is now available for sale online from the Orkney Heritage Society’s online bookshop.
The proceeds from this publication, including the authors’ royalties, will go to the Orkney Heritage Society for the Kitchener-HMS Hampshire Memorial Refurbishment Project.
More details and news about this project can be found on the project’s blog page: kitchenerhampshire.wordpress.com
A dedicated website with a full list of casualties and survivors has been set up: hmshampshire.org
Thank you to the many individuals and organisations who have already helped the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project with donations and their time.
These include Orkney Island Council’s Community Development Fund, 71 Engineer Regiment, the US Army National Guard, the US Air National Guard, and many more.