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Neil_York

Kitchener's Staff aboard HMS Hampshire

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Neil_York

Hi

Forum members will be aware of Kitchener's death in the sinking of HMS Hampshire. Around four years ago it was discovered that certain members of his Staff who also perished are not listed in Commonwealth War Graves Commission Registers.

We recently received good news informing us that the MoD have approved the commemoration of the following forgotten men.

Brigadier General Sir Hay Frederick DONALDSON, KCB., Chief Superintendent Ordnance Factories.

Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Stephen ROBERTSON, Director of Production at the Ministry of Munitions.

I should point out that the Army ranks shown for both men were temporary and had been gazetted only a matter of weeks before the fateful journey. The presence of two high-ranking “officers” alongside Kitchener in Russia would clearly have been better for appearances.

Their names are to be added to the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton.

I think it's worth mentioning that both men were awarded the British War Medal.

Neil York

on behalf of cwgc.co.uk

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PhilB

Thanks for that info, Neil. The drowning of Kitchener has always seemed a strange event to me in that it`s an unlikely way for such a man to go. I imagine Kitchener standing there as the ship goes down, thinking "This can`t be happening to me - I`m top man in the British Army, not a sailor"! It must have been a terrifying experience for all. Phil B

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Terry Denham

Congratulations, Neil.

Good work all round. I know it took you a long time but the result is worth it.

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andigger
The drowning of Kitchener has always seemed a strange event to me in that it`s an unlikely way for such a man to go.

I've always thought the same... are there any contemporary accounts from survivors or any books written about the sinking?

Andy

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stiletto_33853

Neil,

Well done.

Andy

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PhilB
I've always thought the same... are there any contemporary accounts from survivors or any books written about the sinking?

Andy

IIRC, there were no survivors? Phil B

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Brigantian

Phil/Andy

There were 12 survivors, although I have not seen any 1st hand accounts. This link gives an overview of the sinking.

Regards

Mark

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PhilB

Fascinating account, Mark! It`s a curious addendum that none of the survivors left an account of such a notable loss? Phil B

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Brigantian

Took our holidays in Orkney last September and visited Marwick Head. Here are a few photographs:

Kitchener’s Memorial, Marwick Head:

post-1549-1113864359.jpg

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Brigantian

A vickers 3lb deck gun salvaged from the wreck of HMS Hampshire:

post-1549-1113864519.jpg

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Brigantian

And the Memorial Plaque:

post-1549-1113864636.jpg

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andigger

Great pictures! It does seem rather odd, that of the 120 men who made it into the two life boats only 10 survived.

The article also talks about the rock shore.... in Brigantian's pictures it doesn't look that bad.

Andy

"The first raft, which had 40 men in it when it left the sinking ship, picked up a further 30 from the water. By the time it reached land only six were left alive. A second craft made it to the shore. Of the 40 or 50 men on board only four had survived the journey."

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Matt Dixon

What a fascinating thread, one of the men from my old school who I have been researching, Brigadier General Wilfred Ellershaw, died on HMS Hampshire so I find this thread particularly interesting.

Thanks for sharing it with us, and well done on the work!

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PhilB

I could have understood the men dying in the lifeboats if they`d been out for a long time in winter, but this was May/June and they weren`r far out! Phil B

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ianw

Yes, the losses in the life-boats are extraordinary . I presume there was an inquiry ? I wonder what was established ?

I presume shark attack and cannibalism were ruled out !

A quick look on Bookfinder did not throw up any books on this ship's loss. Is there one ?

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michaeldr

More on the sinking of the Hampshire here, see http://www.hmshampshire.co.uk/

Including an account by one of the survivors.

The water in that part of the world never really gets warm even in summer and early June is not summer at that latitude. Most who made it off the ship before she went down, died or drowned having suffered exhaustion and exposure.

Regards

Michael D.R.

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ianw

Sea conditions were not good and certainly not warm. However given that the vessel took 10-15 minutes to go down, the small number of survivors is perhaps surprising. I wonder how many men her life-boats could hold ?

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PhilB

Interesting point. Ian. It wasn`t long after Titanic and one wonders if sailors were any better provided for? A good picture of Hampshire or similar might give a clue. Phil B

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Brigantian

Andy

The picture of the Memorial I posted gives a benign impression.

This is how it looks from the other side on a calm day:

post-1549-1113932272.jpg

Regards

Mark

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andigger

:D Opps! I stand corrected, unequivocally corrected! :lol:

Andy

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andigger
I've a piece of the ship that was salvaged and made into a clock!!

Mark you can't just say that without providing a picture and some more explanation...... Andy

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chris.wight

I came across this article about one of the survivors in a Canadian newspaper, the April 22, 1918 edition of the Calgary Daily Herald, link.

post-2466-1117597304.jpg

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larneman
We recently received good news informing us that the MoD have approved the commemoration of the following forgotten men.

Brigadier General Sir Hay Frederick DONALDSON, KCB., Chief Superintendent Ordnance Factories.

Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Stephen ROBERTSON, Director of Production at the Ministry of Munitions.

Congratulations on this sucess.

On this site lord kitchener there a lot of bits and pieces connected with his death and thereafter.

It includes a "Souvenir of the Memorial Service" for Lord Kitchener and his staff, Captain and crew at St Pauls Cathedral on 13 June 1916.

It lists his staff and both DONALDSON and ROBERTSON are listed without rank.

Also on a REMEMBRANCE CARD they are listed without rank.

Strange what one can find on the Net.

Liam

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Neil-K

Having been reading around the subject of the loss of the Hampshire there are a few loose ends in the posts above that I may be able to tie in:

  1. The Canadian newspaper cutting is interesting and the claim is dubious. The quoted A E Smith is not listed as one of the 12 survivors, (nor as a casualty).
  2. Books on the loss of the Hampshire: An excellent book examining and dispelling a series of myths was produced in 1959 by a Donald McCormick called 'The Mystery of Lord Kitchener's Death'. It details the particularly harrowing accounts from the survivors and those who witnessed a lot of the tragedy and concludes that this was more cock up than anything else with a major vessel sailing into a gale though an unswept route. Regrettably this seems to have been compounded by too much bluster when news of the sinking came in and an unsuitable rescue response. Whether the reporting of this also suffered from re-writing later is a moot point.
  3. The June 1926 edition of newspaper The Orcadian, produced to commemorate the opening of the Kitchener Memorial that year, is extremely frank about the local views about how things were handled.
  4. There are films of the opening on Pathe's website http://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-kitchener-memorial-cuts and also that of 'Scotland on Screen' http://scotlandonscreen.org.uk/database/record.php?usi=007-000-002-399-C&searchdb=scotscreen_scran&
  5. As to it being suspicious at the scale of loss of life so near the coast: I can attest to how terrible it can get here. 19m (60ft) high waves were measured near the site this year, the sea temperature is rarely over 10C and is more usually nearer 7C and the coastline is just as shown in the photo of the memorial above. There is a beach further south at Skail and 2 survivors were found there along with 2 who made it up the beach and died of exposure during the night. There is nothing suspicious about dying in the sea off Orkney in a gale I regret to say.

One reason for the reading around the subject and for this posting is also to initiate contact with anybody who is interested in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. There is a memorial to Kitchener, but little to the 649 others who died that terrible night. There is a local campaign gathering momentum and through this forum I would be glad to hear from people, particularly relatives of those involved.

Neil

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Khaki

With the 'Hampshire' going down in ten to fifteen minutes, one might think that there was sufficient time to enable more to survive, however the time would have been reduced by the process of a damage control report to the bridge (if any was done) and an order to 'abandon ship'.
With a heavy sea running and a sinking/listing ship either going down by the bow or rolling to the side, lowering boats would have been difficult if not impossible.

With there being very few survivors, most drowning and even some of those in ships boats dying from exposure, the chances of KoK surviving would have been remote, remembering that at 66 years of age he was probably the oldest man aboard and I am sure that he and the captain would have been amongst the last to have left the ship if it had been possible to do so.

khaki

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