Project team member Andrew Hollinrake is running a special tour to the Ness Battery in Stromness, Orkney this Saturday (21 February 2015). All are welcome, entry is by donation. All money collected will go towards our Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project.
The walk, taking place on International Tourist Guide Day, will be along the Ness shore, exploring some of the wartime relics, then visiting Ness Battery, including its mess hall with the famous mural. Ness Battery is an important relic of Orkney’s wartime heritage and once defended Scapa Flow against enemy attack.
Saturday’s tour starts at 2.00pm, at the Point of Ness, and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Andrew says: “Please note there are no bathroom facilities along this route. It is also rather exposed, so please wrap up warm!” No booking is required.
To remind you, we aim to restore the Kitchener Memorial, at Marwick Head on Orkney’s Atlantic coast, and build a commemorative wall engraved with the names of all 736 men lost when HMS Hampshire sank in June 1916.
Meanwhile, two pieces of good news for our project since our last blog: Orkney Islands Council has given planning permission for the restoration work on Kitchener Tower.
And on Saturday The Times published a double-page spread about the project.
Once again, thank you for following our project, and for the generous donations we have already received.
We are delighted to announce the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project has launched a JustGiving page to allow anyone who would like to help the project financially to donate.
This is an important step towards our aim of restoring the Kitchener Memorial and creating a commemorative wall around the memorial, engraved with the names of more than 700 men who were lost on HMS Hampshire in 1916.
Here is a link to our JustGiving page…
We announced this development with press releases to the media both in and out of Orkney. As a result we received handsome coverage in our local newspaper The Orcadian and in the Press & Journal. Neil Kermode, who chairs our project, was interviewed by Fionn McArthur from the ever-helpful team at BBC Radio Orkney (Interview at 24:30).
To allow those of you following the project an insight into our thinking, and the story of HMS Hampshire, we reproduce below the press release which went to the media outside Orkney.
Thank you for your interest in the project, and for the generous donations we have already received.
Press release dated 2 February 2015
Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial: A project to better remember more than 700 men lost on HMS Hampshire
A commemorative wall bearing the names of more than 700 men lost when their warship sank in the First World War is to be built in Scotland.
The wall will surround Orkney’s Kitchener Memorial in order to “better remember” those who died alongside Earl Kitchener on HMS Hampshire.
A web page allowing people to contribute to the project is officially launched this week.
HMS Hampshire sank in a storm off Orkney on 5 June 1916 after hitting a mine. It was long believed that 643 men died but recent research suggests it was 737. There were 12 survivors.
The Kitchener Memorial, a 48-feet high stone tower, was unveiled in 1926 on cliffs at Marwick Head, on the Atlantic west coast of Mainland Orkney. The site is within an RSPB reserve and offers stunning views.
Earl Kitchener was a member of the British Cabinet and Secretary of State for War when he died. He was travelling to Russia for talks. He is perhaps best known today as the face of the “Your Country Needs You!” recruiting posters.
A plaque on the memorial only makes brief reference to the other men lost that day.
Orkney Heritage Society aims to restore the Kitchener Memorial to its original condition, retaining its iconic profile, and to build a low wall of local stone around the memorial, on which will be engraved in granite the names of all those lost. The wall itself will be of local stone.
Anyone who wishes to donate towards the £200,000 needed is welcome to do so online at justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/. The project committee is also applying for grants towards the cost.
The restoration and commemorative wall are to be officially unveiled at events marking the centenary of the sinking on Sunday 5 June 2016.
Neil Kermode, who is leading the project for Orkney Heritage Society, says: “As the centenary of the loss approaches, we believe those 737 men deserve to be better, and appropriately, remembered. I also believe there is unanimous agreement locally for this idea and great interest further afield.
“The project committee is working hard to get grants towards the cost but we will also rely on public donations. We would be grateful for any contributions, large and small.”
A planning application has been submitted to Orkney Islands Council for work to restore the Kitchener Memorial. Soon a planning application will be submitted for the wall, which will be a little over a metre high and built around four sides of the memorial.
Anyone without computer access who wishes to donate may send a cheque, payable to Orkney Heritage Society, to Orkney Heritage Society, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 9AD.
Background notes to the press release
The Kitchener Memorial
The plaque on the Kitchener Memorial reads: “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 5th June 1916.”
The memorial cost £734 to build, paid for by public subscription from Orcadians.
HMS Hampshire and the sinking
HMS Hampshire, a Devonshire-class armoured cruiser, was launched in 1903 and went into service with the Royal Navy in 1905.
She took part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916.
A few days later, on 5 June, she left the Royal Navy’s anchorage at Scapa Flow, Orkney, bound for Russia. Earl Kitchener was on board, heading for secret talks with Britain’s war-time ally.
But at about a quarter to eight in the evening, in stormy conditions less than two miles from shore, she struck a mine laid by a German u-boat. Only 12 crewmen survived.
It was long thought that Earl Kitchener was one of 650 men lost from HMS Hampshire. But recent research by local historian Brian Budge suggests the final death toll was as high as 737.
The restoration project
A planning application has been submitted to Orkney Islands Council for work to restore the Kitchener Memorial. The plans would see the stonework restored to its original condition, the roof inspected and repaired, the ventilation reinstated and the former inspection doorway in the memorial restored.
A second planning application is being submitted for a low wall, a little over a metre high and made from local stone, around four sides of the Kitchener Memorial. The names of the 737 men lost would be inscribed in granite on this wall.
Relatives of those who were on board HMS Hampshire, or others with knowledge about those lost, are invited to contact the project to share memories and information (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Decisions about how the interpretive material will be displayed have not yet been made.
Orkney Heritage Society
Orkney Heritage Society is undertaking the project as its contribution to the centenary of World War 1, to preserve the existing tower and to enhance the environment.
Founded in 1968, the society is a charitable body whose objectives are: to stimulate public interest in, and care for, the beauty, history and character of Orkney; to encourage the preservation, development and improvement of features of general public amenity or historic interest; to encourage high standards of architecture and planning in Orkney.