HMS Hampshire centenary: one week to go

scott_mcivor2
Aerial view of since-completed restoration work at Kitchener Memorial, showing the arc-shape of HMS Hampshire wall to be unveiled on 5 June 2016 (image: Scott McIvor)

In seven days’ time we will gather in Orkney to remember the 737 men who died when HMS Hampshire sank on 5 June 1916.

The centenary commemorations are not confined to Orkney though. We have heard of events in Norfolk and Winchester, while others in the UK and around the world will join via the internet or through quiet reflection at home.

HMS Hampshire was sailing to Russia in stormy conditions when she hit a mine at about 8.45pm, British Summer Time, just off Marwick Head, Orkney. There were only 12 survivors.

There will be a service to remember these men from 8.00pm on Sunday 5 June on Marwick Head, adjacent to the Kitchener Memorial. The service ends at 8.45 with a two-minute silence.

During the service the new HMS Hampshire commemorative wall, an Orkney Heritage Society project, will be unveiled. The low arc-shaped wall is engraved with the names of all 737 men, as well as the nine who died when HM Drifter Laurel Crown was lost on 22 June 1916.

Incidentally, the society has received many generous donations, and grants, towards the cost of the wall. If you feel you would like to help there is a JustGiving page.

We have posted, on Facebook, some advice for those attending the service. Key points include: make sure you book a place at the service and on the shuttle buses; if you are a visitor to Orkney, please note it may be surprisingly cold and wet on Marwick Head; and it is a steep walk to the Kitchener Memorial from the bus drop-off point.

The service will be streamed on the internet and onto a screen at Birsay Community Hall. For the latter, book here.

IMG_20151210_071859
Three men whose names will be on the new wall: George Petrie of Orkney (left), JWH Beechey (top right) and AG Watts (bottom right)

Birsay Heritage Trust has organised a series of centenary events under the banner Remembering The Hampshire.

These include an HMS Hampshire exhibition at Birsay Community Hall, Orkney on Friday 3 June, Saturday 4 June and Monday 6 June from 11.00am to 5.00pm. Historic artefacts will be on display, along with a new model of the ship made by Paul Tyer of Peedie Models, Orkney – and there will be cream teas.

book4
The cover of the book – HMS Hampshire: A Century Of Myths And Mysteries Unravelled

There will also be a chance to order the new Orkney Heritage Society book,  HMS Hampshire: A Century Of Myths And Mysteries Unravelled, to meet editor James Irvine and for relatives of the crew and passengers of HMS Hampshire to contribute short anecdotes for inclusion in the book.

And you will be able to see three new sketches by Belgian artist Koen Broucke, who is attending the exhibition. Two of the acrylic and pencil sketches depict Marwick Head, one showing the Kitchener Memorial when it was being restored by Orkney Heritage Society, and the third is entitled The Return Of The Hampshire. After the exhibition the sketches will be loaned to the Orkney Islands Council collection.

Other events include:

Wednesday 1 June, 7.30pm: Illustrated talk, Remembering The Hampshire, presented by the Archaeology Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands. Birsay Community Hall. Free event.

Friday 3 June, 6.30 & 8.30pm, also Saturday 4 June, 7.30pm: Birsay Drama Group & Friends present A Fitful Sea, a commemorative programme in narrative, poetry, music and song, at Birsay Community Hall. Tickets from: OIC Customer Services, Kirkwall; Warehouse Buildings, Stromness; Dounby Post Office; Palace Stores, Birsay.

Saturday 4 June, 3.00pm: The Battles Of Coronel And Falkland Islands film show, Birsay Community Hall.

A full list of events linked to the HMS Hampshire centenary, and that of the Battle of Jutland, is on the Orkney Islands Council website.

concert_poster
Poster for HMS Hampshire concert at Winchester Cathedral (image: Winchester Consort)

Away from Orkney, there is a concert by the Winchester Consort in Winchester Cathedral on Sunday 5 June. The programme of music includes Lullabye For Lucy by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. More information and booking here.

And in Norfolk on Sunday 5 June people will gather to commemorate one of the men lost with HMS Hampshire, Ship’s Corporal George Harry Bond, whose parents were living in Great Ryburgh. Activities include displays, a special peal and a tree planting.

At least 20 members of George Harry Bond’s family travelling from Australia, Canada and across England will visit Great Ryburgh over the weekend. Amongst the visitors will be the grandchildren of George Harry’s sister, Celia Clara Riddy, who, one year after her brother’s death, penned the following verse into her scrapbook:

“In loving memory of Dear Brother George Harry Bond who lost his life on H.M.S.Hampshire June 5th 1916.

“We cannot forget him we loved him too dearly
For his memory to fade from our lives like a dream
Our lips need not speak when our hearts mourn sincerely
For grief often dwells where it seldom is seen.”

Graham Brown

Please note: this blog has been updated since it was first posted to include more information about the HMS Hampshire book, Koen Broucke’s sketches and the webpage for the live feed of the memorial service.

Surveying the wreck of HMS Hampshire

hms-hampshire-stern-uhi
Stern of HMS Hampshire showing portside bronze propellor. The rudder lies on the seabed. The starboard propellor was previously salvaged (image: Roving Eye Enterprises Ltd)

This week has brought news of two surveys of the wreck of HMS Hampshire, which sank after hitting a mine off Orkney on 5 June 1916. At the time she was taking Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, to Russia for talks. In all, 737 men died, and only 12 survived.

You may have read on our blog about the ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) survey to be carried out by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Archaeology Institute.

That survey went ahead earlier this month – with one of our project’s volunteers, Andrew Hollinrake, on board – and the first results have been announced.

Hollinrake - First sighting of Hampshire on the echo sounder
First sighting of Hampshire on the echo sounder

The survey confirms previous findings that HMS Hampshire capsized as she sank and lies with an upturned hull on the seabed, in approximately 60 metres of water.

The superstructure is compressed and buried in the silt of the seabed. The hull is damaged in places, exposing parts of the interior, including torpedo tubes and machinery.

Hollinrake - Keith Bichan at the ROV controls - looking at remaining propeller
Keith Bichan, of Roving Eye Enterprises, at the ROV controls – looking at the remaining propeller

The UHI Archaeology Institute was working in partnership with Seatronics – an Acteon Company, Teledyne RESON, Roving Eye Enterprises Ltd and Triscom Marine Ltd. You can read more about what was found – and what happens next – on the institute’s own blog: https://archaeologyorkney.com/2016/05/26/hms-hampshire-initial-rov-images/.

Hollinrake - In the engine room - open hatches of one of the upside-down furnaces
In the Hampshire’s engine room – open hatches of one of the upside-down furnaces

Meanwhile, a second survey was announced this week which, like the ROV survey, is operating with permission from the Ministry of Defence.

A  team of specialist international divers will undertake a photographic and 3D-imaging survey of the wreck. They will be diving from MV Huskyan, which is based in Stromness, Orkney.

Expedition leader Rod Macdonald says the objective is to undertake a detailed survey of HMS Hampshire, and to record it using stills and video photography.

A detailed written and visual survey report will be compiled, which will be made available to the MoD, museums in Orkney and Historic Environment Scotland.

There is more about the dive survey in BBC Radio Orkney’s Around Orkney programme, about 12 minutes in…

https://soundcloud.com/radio-orkney/around-orkney-thursday-26th-of-may-2016

Update to blog (28.5.16): On Wednesday (1 June) at 7.30pm there will be an illustrated talk ‘Remembering The Hampshire’, presented by the Archaeology Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands, using some of the dive footage and scans. It’s at Birsay Community Hall  and it’s a free event.

Graham Brown

New book to commemorate centenary of loss of HMS Hampshire

The countdown continues – it is now just over three weeks until people from far and wide gather in Orkney to remember the sinking of HMS Hampshire 100 years ago and the 737 men who died on that stormy June night in 1916.

Relatives of those lost with HMS Hampshire – or HM Drifter Laurel Crown – should by now have heard from Orkney Islands Council about arrangements for the commemorative events. If you have not heard, and think you should have done, please contact Susan Learmonth by email – Susan.Learmonth@orkney.gov.uk – or telephone 01856 873535.

If you live in Orkney look out in this week’s edition of The Orcadian for a programme of events, published by Orkney Islands Council, marking the centenaries of the Battle of Jutland and the loss of HMS Hampshire.

For those of you elsewhere please keep an eye on this page on the council’s website which is being updated with further information:

http://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/S/first-world-war-commemorative-cultural-programme.htm

Meanwhile, as promised in this blog’s headline, we can bring you exciting news of a new book about HMS Hampshire. The Orkney Heritage Society announcement follows.

Graham Brown

book4
The cover of the book – HMS Hampshire: A Century of Myths and Mysteries Unravelled

Orkney Heritage Society announces the forthcoming publication of a book to commemorate the centenary of the loss of HMS Hampshire:

HMS Hampshire: a Century of Myths and Mysteries Unravelled

by James Irvine, Brian Budge, Jude Callister, Kevin Heath, Andrew Hollinrake, Issy Grieve, Keith Johnson, Neil Kermode, Michael Lowrey, Tom Muir, Emily Turton and Ben Wade

The book assembles hitherto unused contemporary evidence to explore the causes and circumstances of the loss of HMS Hampshire on 5 June 1916 and the associated myths and mysteries.

It will include the new Roll of Honour, accounts of Hampshire, Lord Kitchener and the mission to Russia, the rescue efforts and associated rumours and outrage, the conspiracy theories, the minelaying and minesweeping operations, the loss of HM Drifter Laurel Crown, the Kitchener Memorial, the diving expeditions on the wreck, the artefacts, and the centenary events, and notes on the survivors and many of the men who lost their lives (brief contributions still welcomed).

This A4 120 page illustrated case-bound book will be launched on 30 August 2016 and retail at £25 plus postage & packing. All proceeds, including authors’ royalties, will go to the Orkney Heritage Society for the Kitchener Memorial refurbishment project.

Two pre-launch offers are available for orders placed before 20 August 2016 (this has been extended from 30 June 2016):

Either: Copies may be ordered for £25 with free UK postage and packing
(plus £5 supplement for Europe, £10 supplement for rest of world);

Or: Copies may be ordered for £20, ie 20% off, for personal collection in exchange for receipt at the launch on 30 August, or thereafter from Lucy Gibbon at The Orkney Archive, Junction Road, Kirkwall.

Payment for the above pre-launch offers may be by:

Either: cheque payable to “The Orkney Heritage Society” and sent to the OHS Treasurer, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, KW15 9AD. Please enclose name, email address (for receipt), and (for postal option) delivery address;

Or: cash or cheque at the Birsay Community Hall on 3 to 5 June, 11am – 5pm and evenings.

A PayPal payment facility is also available via this Orkney Heritage Society page.

Queries to jamesmirvine@hotmail.co.uk

Please note: this blog was amended on 13 May 2016 to change the url of the Orkney Islands Council webpage giving information about centenary events and to add a link to Orkney Heritage Society’s PayPal facility. It was further amended on 5 July 2016 to reflect the new final date of 20 August 2016 for book pre-launch offers.

ROV survey of HMS Hampshire wreck site

20150814 Postcards-Hampshire
Postcards of HMS Hampshire

It is hard to believe that on Sunday it will only be four weeks until centenary commemorations take place to mark the loss of HMS Hampshire and 737 men, close to the Orkney coast, during the First World War. The restored Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head will be officially unveiled, together with the new HMS Hampshire wall engraved with the names of all those lost.

Meanwhile, we have some exciting news in today from the University of the Highlands and Islands about a survey of the wreck due to take place tomorrow. Their press release below explains all.

Graham Brown

HMS Hampshire condition assessment

HMS Hampshire struck a mine at 19.40 on the 5th June 1916 while transporting Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, to Archangel in northern Russia for a meeting with Tsar Nicholas II. She sank within 20 minutes, with the loss of 737 lives, including Lord Kitchener. Only 12 of the company survived. The German U-boat U-75 laid the mine on the 29th of May 1916 off Marwick Head in Orkney.

HMS Hampshire, a Devonshire class armoured cruiser, was completed in 1905. Joining the Grand Fleet in January 1915 she played a minimal role in the Battle of Jutland from the 31st May to the 1st June 1916, before being assigned to the transport of Lord Kitchener.

Presently, the wreck lies upside down in approximately 60 metres of water, surrounded by a large debris field. The HMS Hampshire site was designated in 2002, under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. There have previously only been two remote surveys of the wreck since the salvage activities of 1977 to 1983.

The condition assessment of HMS Hampshire will be the first extensive mapping of the wreck site since her sinking in 1916. It is a collaborative project between ORCA Marine, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and Seatronics, an Acteon company.

It aims to assess the condition of the wreck a hundred years after she tragically sank, documenting the impact of salvage activities and environmental factors on the integrity of the remains.

Sandra Henry, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, Marine Archaeologist, said: “It is really significant in the run up to the centenary of the HMS Hampshire to carry out a condition survey and map the extent of the wreck site. This survey is being undertaken as a mark of respect and remembrance for those who lost their lives aboard, and all those who lost their lives at sea during the First World War.”

Alistair Coutts, Senior Sales & Business Development Manager, Seatronics, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating on this exciting project on this historic anniversary. Our aim is to use our Predator inspection class ROV to survey the wreckage along with the latest 2D and 3D scanning technology to identify key areas of interest, providing informative imagery and insight into the current conditions of the site.”

This project has received funding and sponsorship from Interface, Orkney Islands Council and Northlink Ferries.

End of UHI press release