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Neil_York

Kitchener's Staff aboard HMS Hampshire

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Moonraker

I'm reading Speed Records on British Railways by O S Nock (not my preferred choice of literature, but it was a Christmas present), which describes the special  train that took Kitchener and his retinue from King's Cross to join HMS Hampshire. Before it was half-an-hour on its way, an unnamed Foreign Office official arrived at the station with important documents and stated that he must catch Kitchener's train. A second train was organised at very short notice, and when Kitchener's own train stooped at Grantham he received a telephone message about the documents and it was arranged that his train would wait at York for the second one, which had left King's Cross at 1856, 71 minutes after the Kitchener train. At York the time gap was down to 43 minutes.

 

The book gives a detailed account, with tables, of the two journeys, but the purpose of this post is to note that the "special envoy" sailed with Kitchener and duly perished.

 

Moonraker

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voltaire60

   Does Ossie Nock name the official?  One would think that an urgent courier would be a King's Messenger-  if only to have sufficient authority to commandeer a train (Or pomposity-not all memories of the silver greyhounds are wholly positive). But it is not obvious from the HMS Hampshire website, with it's casualty lists, who this official might be.

     King's Messengers  were usually retired military officers and one would expect a number of them to have been recalled to service in 1914.  The King's Messengers were entitled to the usual run of war medals and have their medal rolls at WO 329/2956..  Despite this , King's Messengers are not listed on  CWGC-  if this man was a not a King's Messenger, then so be it- but if he was, then it might be a minor IFTC  adjustment  as I suspect King's Messengers should be entitled to CWGC memorialisation-it would make little sense to have YMCA et al (on the medal rolls) listed on CWGC  if this group were  excluded.

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Moonraker
1 hour ago, Moonraker said:

 ... Before it was half-an-hour on its way, an unnamed Foreign Office official arrived at the station with important documents and stated that he must catch Kitchener's train...

 

32 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

   Does Ossie Nock name the official ...

No.

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Crunchy

Possibly this fellow:  Mr. Hugh James O'Beirne CVO CB   British Foreign Office Minister

 

http://www.hmshampshire.co.uk  Go to casualty list and then Kitchener's Staff Lost at Sea.

 

Chris

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horatio2

Does the account state specifically that the FO official actually embarked in HAMPSHIRE? Is it possible that he merely handed the documents to Kitchener's staff?

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Moonraker

"It is sad to recall that the special envoy ... duly sailed in the Hampshire, and perished with Lord Kitchener and the rest of his suite," says Nock.

 

I treat the description "special envoy" with caution; previously Knock referred to him as "a representative of the Foreign Office". I think that a King's Messenger would have merely handed over the documents at York and returned to London.

 

Googling produces nothing, save for

 

this perhaps garbled account

 

I presume that Kitchener's journey was planned some time in advance (rather than in a great rush), which should have allowed time for all necessary documents to have been assembled. Perhaps some where left behind by mistake at the FO? Or there may have been last-minute developments?

 

We'll never know.

 

Moonraker

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voltaire60

   The official was indeed Hugh O'Beirne- the story is told on the Government blog.  O'Beirne was too senior to be a messenger boy-he was Kitchener's expert on Russian and Eastern Europe. The answer was a little more mundane- he missed the train

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Moonraker

Good work, Voltaire.

 

More here.

 

Moonraker

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voltaire60

  Thanks M-   The Kitchener Mission is of interest as one of the great "what if's" of the war. There is some scholarship that suggests that some assessments of K.of K. have perhaps been coloured too much agin him- especially the views of Beaverbrook and "Politicians and the War".(Fading colossus,etc) The little story by Ossie Nock-always a good read for railway buffs - perhaps hides 2 considerations which have skewed matters a little:

1)  That the Kitchener Mission was quite heavyweight-  most accounts of Kitchener's end  concentrate on the mine-laying, the stormy weather, Kitchener last being seen, etc. The rest of his party are just "also rans"- but there were men of great distinction in it whose contribution has been overlooked simply because they did not survive either to receive honours nor to write memoirs. Hugh O' Beirne was one of these- certainly the equal of George Buchanan as a Russia expert. Likewise, Kitchener's military colleagues were the brains of a good staff team-we have any amount of stuff about the men around Haig. Those around Kitchener deserve their plaudits as well. 

2)  The non-service casualties of officials in wartime obscures their  importance  up to the moment of their deaths. My main knowledge of these is of the Second World War-  no serious consideration  of D-Day,etc can overlook the roles of Leigh-Mallory and Bertie Ramsay-the latter I consider to be Britain's greatest admiral of both wars. But the historiography for these has subdued their roles because they did not live to write memoirs-though Ramsay's diary shows what a calm outlook and a good brain can do when in a position of high command. There were casualties from the Foreign Office too during the Second World War- the loss of a plane load of officials on their way to Yalta in 1945 has condemned them to the footnotes- and the loss of Arthur Purvis - the purchasing genius- to an air crash earlier in the war was keenly felt by Churchill,although the man is now pretty much forgotten

     So, a little tale by Ossie Nock to perhaps redeem a forgotten man just a little. Perhaps the truth is that the observation that "History" is written by the winners should be amended to say that History is written by the survivors.

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Kimberley John Lindsay

Dear All,

The man responsible for the loss of Kitchener and all the others was Kapitänleutnant Curt Beitzen.

He was in command of U 75 (from 26 March 1916 to 1 May 1917), engaged in laying a mine-field of 38 mines on 29 May 1916 - one of these being hit in foul weather by HMS Hampshire on 5 June 1916.

Kplt Beitzen later took command of U 98 from 31 May 1917 to 24 November 1917, followed bybeitzen_curt.jpg.1b4bcf1303d317dec5aa6687a9c4246f.jpg U 102, on 26 November 1917. He had accounted for ten ships with U 75, none with U 98, and six ships with U 102 - but on 27 September 1918, U 102 hit a mine, east of the Orkney Islands and was lost with all hands.

From Hildesheim, born 21 May 1885, his two brothers were also officers of the Kaiserlichen Marine: Rudolf (Fähnrich zur See), lost on 28 August 1914 with SMS Cöln; and Richard (Kapitänleutnant), lost on 21 January 1918 with G 87 (Torpedo-boat).

Kindest regards,

Kim.

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Phil Wood

And the commemoration:

Addenda.JPG

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Kimberley John Lindsay

Dear All

'Non Combatant Corps' was new to me...

Kindest regards,

Kim.

Edited by Kimberley John Lindsay

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