Plans coming together for HMS Hampshire centenary

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A view of Marwick Head, with Kitchener Memorial in the distance (image: Scott McIvor)

When we started our Kitchener and HMS Hampshire Memorial project to “Better Remember” the hundreds of men who were lost one stormy summer night in the First World War the centenary of the tragedy seemed a long way away.

But now it is less than four months until folk will gather at Marwick Head, Orkney on 5 June 2016 to commemorate the men who were lost with HMS Hampshire. How is the Orkney Heritage Society project progressing?

Well, the existing Kitchener Memorial, a 48-feet high stone tower built in 1926, is now restored – the roof is repaired, the pointing finished, only the concrete apron remains to be finished.

Work to build the new commemorative Hampshire wall will start soon. An order has already been placed with engravers who will carve in granite the 737 names of the men lost with the warship, along with the nine lost shortly afterwards on HM Drifter Laurel Crown.

The money to complete the project is still a few thousand pounds short of what we need. Thank you to everyone who has helped so far, if you would like to donate please go to our JustGiving page.

Meanwhile the Birsay Heritage Trust’s Remembering The Hampshire project is also making good progress. Many of you have offered artefacts and mementoes for the exhibition to be held, near Marwick Head, at Birsay Community Hall from 3 to 5 June.

If you think you can help with artefacts of HMS Hampshire and her crew and passengers, including Earl Kitchener, or spare time as a volunteer, please contact Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker (details at the bottom of this blog entry).

Our family and naval historian Andrew Hollinrake is turning up some fascinating stories about the men who were lost with HMS Hampshire. Just one example is a surprising cricket link. The Hampshire’s chaplain Rev Philip George Alexander was married to Fannie, niece of perhaps England’s most-famous cricketer W.G. Grace. You can read more about the chaplain on the webpage The history of the War Memorial, Downend, Bristol.

Speaking of Andrew, he will be giving a talk about HMS Hampshire at an event next week, Friday 26 February, which falls exactly 100 days before the centenary of the warship’s loss. Birsay Heritage Trust is hosting an Orkney Seafarer’s Group lunch in the Hampshire lounge at the Barony Hotel, Birsay. Tickets price £6 are on sale from Voluntary Action Orkney, 6 Bridge Street, Kirkwall until Wednesday 24 February.

Plans for the centenary weekend itself are falling into place. Information about the weekend’s events, and those for the Battle of Jutland centenary a few days earlier, are available on the Orkney Islands Council website.

Shortly afterwards the St Magnus International Festival will mark both centenaries when the St Magnus Festival Chorus and BBC Symphony Orchestra perform Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet. They are also performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and rehearsals begin on Monday 22 February. More information on the festival website.

To find out more and help

Anyone who would like to offer artefacts or memories, or act as a volunteer, can contact Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, by telephone (07503 519328), email (Alan.Manzie@vaorkney.org.uk) or by writing to: Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, Voluntary Action Orkney, Anchor Buildings, 6 Bridge Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HR.

Alternatively, contact can be made through through Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial), Twitter (@kitchenerorkney), this blog or the new HMS Hampshire history website, www.hmshampshire.org.

Families of those who were lost with HMS Hampshire, and the Laurel Crown, are encouraged to contact our historian Andrew Hollinrake via the above Facebook, Twitter, blog or website contacts, or by emailing kitchener.memorial@gmail.com.

Anyone who wishes to donate towards the project can do so online at justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/ or send a cheque (payable to Orkney Heritage Society) to Orkney Heritage Society, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, KW15 9AD.

Graham Brown

Remembering The Hampshire

A Birsay Heritage Trust project

Do you think you might have artefacts related to the loss of HMS Hampshire, or to Lord Kitchener, famous for the First World War “Your Country Needs You!” recruitment posters?

If so, Birsay Heritage Trust would love to hear from you. The group’s volunteers are arranging an exhibition to mark the centenary of the sinking of the warship off Orkney with the loss of 737 men, including Kitchener.

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HMS Hampshire (image: © IWM (Q 39007))

Keith Johnson, Chairman, Birsay Heritage Trust, believes there may be artefacts, photographs, letters and memorabilia hidden away in cupboards, attics and sheds which would be of great interest to the public. Or, perhaps you have a family story related to the Hampshire to be told?

A replica of HMS Hampshire has been specially commissioned as a contribution to the “Remembering The Hampshire” exhibition, to be held from 3 to 5 June at Birsay Community Hall, Orkney.

The model, expected to be around one metre long, is to be built by professional model maker, Paul Tyer, of Peedie Models, Tankerness, using Admiralty plans obtained by the trust.

HMS Hampshire was taking Earl Kitchener, Britain’s Secretary of State for War, to Russia for talks when she sank on 5 June 1916. There were only 12 survivors.

Keith Johnson said: “We hope the exhibition will interest local people and the many visitors expected here in June to remember the loss of the crew of HMS Hampshire, as well as Lord Kitchener and his staff, when she foundered after hitting a mine off Marwick Head.

“We are appealing to folk throughout Orkney, and the UK and abroad, for items, photographs, and memories.”

The trust will work with Voluntary Action Orkney to record oral memories which will be made public in both audio and written formats, and preserved for posterity.

Volunteers will be trained in the correct use of the equipment, and in the techniques used to best “draw out” family memories and stories from people who have come forward. Help is also needed to staff the exhibition throughout its opening times.

Birsay Heritage Trust’s Remembering The Hampshire – supported by Orkney Island Council’s World War I Culture Fund – is intended to complement Orkney Heritage Society’s Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project which will see the Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head restored and a commemorative wall created alongside, engraved with the names of all men lost with the warship.

On Sunday 5 June, the centenary of the sinking, an evening service will be held at Marwick Head, Orkney. It is expected the nearby Birsay Community Hall will be the hub of activities that weekend with talks, films and catering.

Mr Johnson said: “We hope the exhibition events will be a focal point for those attending the centenary events, enriching their visit and offering them some Orkney hospitality.”

All historic items not needing to be returned afterwards will be held by Birsay Heritage Trust and publicly shown, on an ad hoc basis, as opportunity arises.

Anyone who would like to offer artefacts or memories, or act as a volunteer, can contact Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, by telephone (07503 519328), email (Alan.Manzie@vaorkney.org.uk) or by writing to: Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, Voluntary Action Orkney, Anchor Buildings, 6 Bridge Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HR.

Alternatively, contact can be made through through Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial), Twitter (@kitchenerorkney), this blog or the new HMS Hampshire history website, www.hmshampshire.org.

Thank you.

Graham Brown

 

The 746 names to be engraved on Orkney’s HMS Hampshire commemorative wall

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An aerial view of restoration work at the Kitchener Memorial, showing the arc-shape of the planned HMS Hampshire wall (image: Scott McIvor)

It is less than six months until the centenary of the sinking of HMS Hampshire, just off Orkney on 5 June 1916, when 737 men were lost, including Britain’s Secretary of State for War Earl Kitchener. Later that month, HM Drifter Laurel Crown sank in the same area, with the loss of all nine crew. Both ships hit mines.

Next year a new commemorative wall, engraved with the names of all 746 men lost with the two ships, will be unveiled. It will be built on Orkney’s Atlantic coast next to the existing Kitchener Memorial, unveiled in 1926, and now being restored.

The wall’s arc shape was chosen following a public consultation. The names will be engraved in block letters, arranged alphabetically in panels facing the memorial. There will be separate panels, within the wall, for Kitchener’s party and for the Laurel Crown crew, which included George Petrie from Burray, Orkney.

The restoration and the new wall are being created as part of the Orkney Heritage Society’s Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project, run by volunteers, writes Graham Brown.

Today on this blog we publish a list of the 746 names, the result of research by local military historian Brian Budge and by memorial project member Andrew Hollinrake.

Andrew is also launching a new website, www.hmshampshire.org, and explains more: “The new website, for now, will just show a list of names. But we hope to have much more in the way of detail online later, including information and photographs we’ve gathered through our research, and from family members of the casualties.

“The final list of names comes from a number of sources including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, the National Archives at Kew, family history websites, relatives and newspaper archives.

“It has taken many hours of work but it is an honour to do this to remember the men from HMS Hampshire, Kitchener’s party and the Laurel Crown.

“I invite everyone with an interest in this project, particularly family members, to look at our list and please let us know if you think amendments are needed before the names are, literally, carved in stone.”

The project members estimate they are more than 90% of the way towards the funding needed for the restoration and the wall, with less than £10,000 still to find.

Anyone who wishes to donate towards the project can do so online at justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/ or send a cheque payable to Orkney Heritage Society.

Relatives who would like to contact Andrew and the team about the published list of names, or who may have artefacts suitable for a planned exhibition around the time of the centenary, may email kitchener.memorial@gmail.com or write to Orkney Heritage Society, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, KW15 9AD.

Alternatively, the volunteers can be contacted through Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial), Twitter (@kitchenerorkney) and via this blog.

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

HMS Hampshire crew [list updated 15 February 2016]

Update – 13 May 2016: Please note that some further amendments have been made to get the final list of names which will appear on the commemorative wall. This final list can be viewed in full on our history website, hmshampshire.org.

ABURROW J A
ADAMS H
ADAMS W F
ADAMS W H
ALEXANDER P G
ALLEN E A
ALLEN F H
ALLEN W B
ALLUM G A
AMEY N P
AMEY W J
AMOS J J
AMY W M
ATTWOOD C E
ATTWOOD G
AUSTIN A E
AYLING C G J
AYTON G
BAGLEY J L
BAILEY C
BAILEY G
BAILEY H R
BAILEY J C
BAINES S
BAKER F G
BAKER P
BALLARD R G
BANCROFT I
BANWELL E J
BARBEARY C H
BARGEN T E
BARNARD J E T
BARNETT J
BARROW N
BARTLETT F H
BARTLETT G 284537
BARTLETT G Sussex 4/172
BARTLETT V G
BATES A
BATES B E
BATES G
BAULK A S
BAYNES G A
BEAN F F
BEAR J V
BEARMAN W J
BECK G E
BEECHEY J W H
BEESTON G S
BELCHAMBER E
BELL W A
BENNETT L S
BENNETT W H
BENTLEY F
BEVERLEY R
BEX W L
BILLINGHAM B
BILLINS W E
BIRTLES R
BISHOP G S J
BLACK R B
BLACKSHAW G
BLAKE E A J
BLANDFORD S T
BLOOR T
BOBBETT J J
BOND G H
BONNICK H A W
BORAMAN R J
BORNE J H
BOSWORTH M J
BOWEN G W
BRAGG J A
BRAIN W H
BRIDGES W F
BRINDLEY J
BRISCOE J
BROAD W H
BROCKWAY A G C
BROWN R
BROWN W
BROWNING H
BUCKENHAM J T
BUCKINGHAM R A
BUNTING T
BURDEN E
BURFOOT C N N
BURREN G P
BURROWS A
BURTON J R
BURY F
BUSBY W S
BUTLER F E
BUTLER G I
BUTLER R T
BYNG J
CADBY W G
CADMAN C
CAKE W
CAMERON W J
CANNON J A
CARD W G B
CARTER C C W A
CARTER T E
CARVIN C
CHAMBERS A H
CHAPLIN H G
CHARLTON A C
CHEATER H J
CHESWORTH A
CHILD A E
CHITTY A
CLARK W
CLAY F
CLAYTON W
CLEARY F W
COLBECK P
COLE F G
COLLECOTT F G
COLLETT J W
COLLIER S
COLLINS S
COLLIS W T
COMPTON A W
CONNELLEY P
CONSTABLE L A L
COOGAN J
COOK F
COOKE H N
COOMBS J R
COOPER G H
COOPER W L M
COPE H
COSSEY A E
COULTHARD T
COVEY J E
COWLEY G W
COX H
COX J
COX J C
COYLE J
CROMPTON E
CROSS A
CRUSE P
CULLINGTON F T
CUMMING D
CUNNINGHAM H
CUNNINGHAM J
DABBS H
DAGWELL F
DALLAS W A E
DANIELS E
DARBY W G
DASENT M
DAVEY E
DAVIS A
DAWSON A W A
DAWSON J B
DE STE CROIX W B
DEAN F P
DENHAM H S
DENNIS H
DEVESON P W
DEVLIN J
DIAMOND C H
DIAPER H J
DODD W
DOHERTY M
DOHERTY R
DOMINEY C J
DONNELLY G N
DOOLEY S
DOVE G W
DOWLAND S J
DOWNES J
DOWSON J
DRUMMOND F G
DUFF P
DUFFIN A J
DUNCAN A J C
DUNN L G A
DURRANT G W
DYER G
EADES J
EAST E R
ECCLESTON N
EDWARDS I S R R
ELLISON V
ELMER G J
ELSON R M
EPPS J F
EVANS G M
EVANS J
EVANS P
EVANS R
EVANS W A
EVERETT W
EWING W
EYRE J
FALLOWFIELD R
FARINDON A
FARTHING W T
FEAR E C
FELLOWES E E
FELLOWS B
FERRETT S J F
FERRETT T C J
FERRIMAN G F W
FIELD G
FIELDING P
FINCKEN C A T
FISKEN P
FITCH J W N
FITZGERALD J H
FLACK F
FLANAGAN B
FLAVIN M
FLEMING J H
FLEMING M T
FLEXMAN E F
FONEY F J
FORREST G H
FORREST J
FOSTER E
FOSTER J
FOTHERGILL E
FOWLER A T
FRASER C S
FREEMAN W A
FREEMAN W C
GALE H A
GALE W
GANDER J
GARDNER W F
GARRETT S
GARRETT W J
GARSDEN J W V
GEARNS J C
GEORGE E C
GERRARD F E
GIBBS W J
GIBSON W
GILDERSLEEVE H
GILES H
GISBORN J F
GLOVER F
GLOVER G A
GOBLE A E
GOMM C
GOODFELLOW B
GORDON J E G
GRACE W E
GRANT S A
GREEN G
GREEN J J
GREEN J
GREENAN J
GREENHILL B P K
GREENWOOD B T
GREY E V
GRINYER C E
GROOMBRIDGE V A
GROVES T P
GROVES W E
HACKEN R F
HAGAN J
HAGAN J S H
HAINES A W
HAINSWORTH H
HAMLIN C H
HANSELL A
HARDEN C
HARDING J
HARGREAVES J H
HARMAN D J
HARPER A H
HARRIS L W
HARRIS S J
HARRISON E G
HARRISON J W
HARRISON T
HART C G C
HART G
HARVEY J R
HARWOOD T J
HAWKINS E
HAWKINS J C
HAWKINS W
HAYES H J
HAYLER J
HAZEL S
HAZEON C S
HEAD G H
HEATH M
HEDGES E T
HEGGS J H
HENEAGE V
HENNESSAY J E
HENRY T W
HENWOOD D
HESELWOOD R
HEWITT F
HICK H
HIGGINS F A
HILL E T
HILL G H
HILL J J
HILL R
HILL T P
HILLS H G
HIRTZEL G H
HISCOCK J T
HOBBS F N
HOBSON M B
HOCKLESS L H
HODGKINSON J
HOLBROOK W
HOLDEN J
HOLL G W
HOLLAMBY F H
HOLLEY J F
HOLLIS S
HOLLOWAY F
HOLTOM H E
HOOK F C
HOOKER B H
HOOKHAM B
HOPE C
HORROCKS A W
HOUGHTON G
HOWDEN W H
HOWE H W
HUDSON S A
HUGHES R L
HUMPHREY A
HUNT F
HUNTER E
HUNTER E F
HUNTER F A
HUNTER G M
INNOLES W F
IRESON W
ISHERWOOD F
IVES J
JAMES G
JAMIESON W
JARVIS B
JARVIS J E
JEFFRIES H
JELLEY T W
JENNINGS G T M
JENNINGS H J
JENOURE A S
JEWITT L
JOELS E J
JOHNSTON J K/24401
JOHNSTON J 8299(S)
JOHNSTONE L H
JONES C
JONES E
JONES H
JONES J
JONES J A
JONES T
JONES W G
JORDAN A H
KANAAR J A G
KEBBLE A A
KEEPING T L
KENDALL A
KENNEDY J
KENNY T
KENWARD H C
KIMBER W J
KIRBY J H
KIRBY W J
KIRKUP F
KNIGHT G H
KNIGHT H
KNIGHT J G
KNOWLSON J W
LACEY R
LACY A
LAITY J H
LAMB J H
LAMPARD A E
LAMPITT J
LARKING A G
LARKINS H
LATTER W T
LATTIMORE G C
LAWLER W
LAWLER W G
LAWRENCE L J
LEACH T W
LEADER L J
LEDGER A E
LEDWOOD J W
LEE W H
LESLIE F P
LEWIS J G
LEWIS J H
LILLEY A L
LIND C N
LIPSCOMBE C W
LITTLE R T
LITTLEWOOD H R
LOCKER G W
LOVEGROVE T G
LOWE J
LOWE T
LOWE W C
LOWERY H
LYFIELD A G
LYNCH J
LYNN A E
MacGREGOR J D
MALLARD J A
MALLET C S B
MALLETT H F
MANSER F S J
MARINER E
MARNER G A
MARSHALL A
MARSHALL F G
MARSHALL G E
MARTIN C
MARTIN G F
MARTIN R P
MASKELL J E
MASTERS B W
MATTHEWS H
MAXTED H
MAYHEW E G
McADAM W
McCALL D
McDONELL P
McFARLANE R M
McGARRIGLE D
McGARVIE W C
McGOWAN F G
McGRATH H
McINTYRE A
McLAUGHLIN J
McLOUGHLIN R J
McNALLY H F
McNEILL R
McPHERSON A J
MEDHURST C A
MELHUISH W J
MERRITT C H
MERWOOD R
MEW J
MIDDLETON R C
MITCHNER H
MOORE G W
MOORE R
MORETON W A
MORLEY A
MORPHEW G A
MORRIS E O
MORRIS F S
MORRIS F A
MORTIEAU A J
MORTON A F
MORTON C E A
MOULD A C
MUDIE D B
MULLEN D
MULLENS F C
MULVEY P
MUNTON A
MUSSON T
NAYLOR A G S
NEELD A W
NEWBEGIN J
NEWMAN J
NINEHAM W E
NOEL H
NORRINGTON T E
NORRIS A C
NORTH A
NORTH G
NORTHOVER S J
NOVICE J A
NOWLAND F
NUGENT M L O
NYE C W
O’CONNELL A A
OLIVER F C
OLIVER J W
ORMONDE W A
OUBRIDGE W B
OULTON W H
OWEN N
PAGE J H
PAMPLIN J H
PARKER G H
PARKER J
PARKHURST A J
PARKS W
PARSONS H
PARSONS S C
PARSONS W R
PASHLEY A E
PATON D
PATTENDEN A
PAYNE A
PAYNE H
PAYNE H E
PEARCE A J J
PELLETT E A
PENGILLY P W
PERRY D
PERRY P E
PESSELL P J
PETERS W R
PETTETT E
PETTETT W J
PHILLIPS A
PIPER F S
POLLARD J
PONSFORD C H
PORTER A J
POTTER F
POWELL J
POWELL W G
PRAGNELL G V
PRAGNELL W
PURNELL E
QUINTON W E
RAGLESS P J
RAMSEY P R
RANDELL G
RAWLINS W E
REDFERN T H
REED G E
REED W
REES W H
REEVE G E
REYNOLDS G
REYNOLDS P
REYNOLDS S H
RICHARDS E
RIGBY J E
RILEY E
RIORDAN T J
ROBERTS P B
ROBERTSON J W
ROBERTSON W H
ROBEY W C
ROBINSON A F
ROBINSON E F H
ROGERS E J
ROGERS W
ROGERS W E
ROSE R J
ROSSITER T
ROWELL W G
ROWLEY J
RUSSELL F
RYAN S
RYAN W
RYLES M
SALISBURY W H
SALOWAY W L
SANDOM G C
SAUNDERS A
SAVILL H J
SCHEURER A L
SCRIVEN T G
SEE C W
SEMPLE R
SEXTON R P A
SEYMOUR H J
SHAILL T E
SHANKS J 270194
SHANKS J K/27968
SHARP W H
SHARPLES T H W
SHAW J P
SHEARMAN C N
SHEPHERD F R
SHEPHERD W
SHERWIN C E
SHIELDS W
SHORT W H
SIDEBOTHAM W
SILK E G
SILLS E E
SIRDIFIELD J T
SKINNER W
SKYNNER W W
SMEDLEY J H
SMITH A K/18646
SMITH A SS/114387
SMITH A PO/15494
SMITH B
SMITH E
SMITH G E
SMITH G S
SMITH G W
SMITH H W
SMITH W J/38334
SMITH W K/2353
SNELL S S
SNOW V G
SNOWDEN J N
SOWDEN W R
SPARKES S J
SPARROW W C J J B
SPEDDING F
SPENCER E G
SPIERS O A
SQUIRE W C
STABLES G
STAFFORD W E
STALLARD G T
STANLEY S
STARMORE E S
STEAD E
STEELE C T
STEPHENS S W
STEVENSON W
STEWART F G
STEWART R C
STRINGER A D
STRINGER C T
STRINGER H
STRINGER J E
SUCKLEY W V
SUTTON A L
SWEETZER H D
TAILBY G A
TAPPER S C
TAYLOR E E
TAYLOR H d P
TAYLOR J A
TERRY P W
THOMPSON R A
THOMPSON W
THORNTON W J
THWAITES W H
TIDEY S W
TILBURY W
TILLING H C
TINGLEY J C
TIPPING E
TIZARD P L E
TOONE S
TREFFRY F C
TRODD H V
TROTT J H
TRUE E B
TUCK C E A
TUCKER C A E
TUNNICLIFFE J
TURNER E J
TURNER F
TURNER F H
TWOMEY L J
VARNDELL E H
VEALE M
VERLANDER G C
VERNON H F
VINCE S J H
VIVIAN R C
WAGSTAFF A H
WAIGHT F E
WALDEN E
WALKER A
WALKER A E
WALLER W J
WALTERS C C
WATERMAN W F
WATERMAN W G
WATERS H
WATTHEW F H
WATTS A G
WATTS C W
WAUGH J
WEBB J H
WELSBY W
WENHAM W F J
WEST C
WHEELER C W
WHEELER G B
WHEELER W A
WHELAN H A
WHITE B
WHITE E
WHITE F K/15718
WHITE F SS/114743
WHITE G V
WHITE J
WHITE W E
WHITLOCK H
WHITNEY F W
WHITWORTH J
WICKENS T J
WICKER R A
WIGFALL T B
WIGG W J
WILDEN G P
WILKINSON C W
WILLIAMS C
WILLIAMS E H
WILLIAMS G
WILLIAMS J G W
WILLIAMS P G
WILLIAMS W
WILLS W S
WILSON A
WILSON B J
WILSON W
WITHINGTON C
WOOD F
WOOD J
WOOD W
WOODGER J E
WYMER F L H
YEATES C H
YOUNG J G

Kitchener’s party

BROWN D C
DONALDSON H F
ELLERSHAW W
FITZGERALD O A G
GURNEY J W
KITCHENER H H
McLOUGHLIN M
MACPHERSON R D
O’BEIRNE H J
RIX L C
ROBERTSON L S
SHIELDS W
SURGUY H
WEST F P

Laurel Crown crew

BAKER T J
COULL J
DURRANT C
MITCHELL R
MURPHY A
NICOLSON M
PETRIE G
SLATER R
STEPHENSON C P

Commemorating a great uncle lost on HMS Hampshire

With less than eight months to go until the centenary of the sinking of HMS Hampshire, just off Orkney on 5 June 1916, we are starting to hear from more and more relatives of the men who were lost.

It is a privilege to be a volunteer on our project – to restore Orkney’s Kitchener Memorial and create an HMS Hampshire commemorative wall – and to receive so many treasured mementoes, memories and photographs.

Meg Hartford is one relative who has unearthed a number of articles and cuttings. For our latest blog we are publishing her own story, as she tells it, of her great uncle. We’ve edited Meg’s account slightly to reflect the revised death toll – for many years it was thought that about 650 men were drowned when HMS Hampshire hit a mine, we now know it was 737.

Graham Brown

Robert Black's Service Record
Robert Black’s Service Record

Robert Brotherton Black, R.N.

Robert Brotherton Black, my grandfather’s brother, was born on 9 April 1890 in Westoe, South Shields.

The Black family were originally from Kilrenny in Fife but by the late 1700s had settled in Blyth. They were sailors and owned several vessels including the Caroline, which was captured by the French off Dungeness in 1809, and the Agenoria which traded between Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and various North East ports.

Robert’s father was James William Black, born in Blyth in October 1856. He was recorded as a sailor in the 1881 census but also spent time working as a driller in the shipyards before returning to the sea. He was lost when the benzine ship, The Vedra, grounded, caught fire and sank in Morecambe Bay in December 1914.

The Brotherton name comes from his mother, Margaret Kelly Brotherton, born in South Shields in 1857. The Brothertons were also of Scottish descent. The family are to be found in Leith in 1841. In the census returns, four sons of Adam, a seaman, and Christiana Brotherton are recorded as merchant seamen. Several of them settled in North and South Shields, married local girls and became mates and masters of vessels.

James William Black married Margaret Kelly Brotherton in South Shields on 15 September 1879. In 1881 they lived at Dairy Lane, Westoe with Adam Brotherton Black, aged seven months. By 1891 three more children had been born, Caroline in 1884, James William in 1886 (my grandfather) and Robert Brotherton Black in 1890. The family had two rooms at 34 Wellington Street, Westoe.

Between 1891 and 1901 the family moved to Sunderland. In the 1901 census 10-year-old Robert and his family lived in two rooms at 3 Wall Street, Hendon. His father and brother Adam were working in the shipyards.

Not surprisingly, considering his family history, Robert went to sea. He joined The Royal Navy on 1 June 1908, signing on for 12 years. His official Royal Navy number was K.13405. Before joining the Royal Navy, Robert had served aboard the SS Napo, formerly the Harmony, a Sunderland-built merchant vessel.

In 1911 he was an Assistant Leading Stoker aboard HMS Superb which was docked at Portsmouth. He remained on this vessel until 5 May 1913.

The Superb was a Bellerophon-class battleship. The vessel was built at Armstrong Whitworth’s Elswick yard and commissioned in 1909. Robert’s brother, James, a brass moulder, was employed at Armstrong’s, Elswick, for many years.

Robert married Ethel Whatcott in Sunderland in the October quarter of 1912. She was born on 19 April 1890 in Sunderland.

Robert was also deployed as an Assistant Leading Stoker on board the Victory II and the Fisgard until June 1913 when he was upgraded to acting Stoker Petty Office on board the Fisgard. He continued with this rating during deployments to the Victory II for a second time and to the Europa.

On 27 January 1914 Robert joined HMS Hampshire, a Devonshire-class armoured cruiser, on the China Station and he was commissioned as a Petty Officer, Stoker on 16 October 1914.

HMS Hampshire was another Armstrong Whitworth vessel, launched on 24 September 1903 at Elswick. Her first assignment was to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of The Channel Fleet. She underwent a refit at Portsmouth in December 1908 and after time in the Reserve and Mediterranean Fleets she was transferred to the China Station in 1912.

When the First World War was declared HMS Hampshire was still part of the China Station. At the end of August 1914 she sailed to the Bay of Bengal to search for the German light cruiser, Emdem, which was attacking British shipping. She remained there with other vessels until Emden was destroyed on 9 November by HMAS Sydney.

Hampshire then escorted an ANZAC troopship through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to Gibraltar where she was refitted in December 1914. In January 1915 she was assigned to the Grand Fleet and later that year was escorting shipping in the White Sea.

HMS Hampshire, as part of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, was present at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, but she did not engage the enemy.

Immediately after the battle she was ordered to carry Lord Kitchener and his staff from Scapa Flow in Orkney to Archangel on a diplomatic mission to the Russians.

On 5 June 1916 the weather in the Orkneys was bad, gale force winds were blowing, so it was decided the Hampshire would sail through the Pentland Firth to shelter from the worst effects of the wind. As she met with her escort vessels, the destroyers Unity and Victor at 5.45pm, the gale became stronger and the wind changed direction, so that the convoy were heading directly into it. The escort ships were unable to keep up with the Hampshire.

At 7.40pm the Hampshire was between The Brough of Birsay and Marwick Head, off Orkney mainland, when she struck a mine and an explosion ripped through the ship causing her to heel to starboard. The explosion holed the cruiser between the bows and the bridge and the lifeboats were smashed against her side by the heavy seas as the crew attempted to lower them. About 15 minutes later the Hampshire sank by the bows with the loss of 737 men, including Petty Officer Robert Brotherton Black and Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War. Only 12 crew managed to reach safety.

Robert’s body was not recovered for burial.

A small piece in the Sunderland Echo of 12 June 1916 gives details of an official notice and letter that his widow, Ethel, would have received…

A cutting from the Sunderland Echo announces Robert's death
A cutting from the Sunderland Echo announces Robert’s death

Ethel and Robert had no children. Ethel did not remarry. I remember her 35 years later, living in Priory Grove, Sunderland. She was great friends with my grandmother and they visited each other regularly. In fact my grandmother stayed with her for several weeks while our house in Brookland Road was repaired after suffering bomb damage in World War II.

Ethel died in 1978 aged 88.

As a child I remember the adults talking about the Battle of Jutland. I took little notice except to look it up in my atlas. Over 50 years later what they were saying finally made sense to me as I discovered my great uncle’s naval career and sad end.

Meg Hartford 2015

Thank you Meg.

We would love to hear on Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial) and Twitter (@kitchenerorkney), or via this blog, from others who wish to share memories and photographs.

We are also seeking artefacts linked to HMS Hampshire for a planned exhibition around the time of the centenary. Please email kitchener.memorial@gmail.com or write to Orkney Heritage Society, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 9AD, UK.

Anyone who wishes to donate towards the project can do so online at justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/ or send a cheque payable to Orkney Heritage Society.

Laurel Crown crew to be remembered on HMS Hampshire memorial

It’s been a notable week for naval history here in Orkney.

On Monday the UK Government announced plans for the centenary commemoration of the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the First World War, in which 6,000 British and 2,500 German personnel died.

Orkney will play a central role in the events on 31 May 2016 with a service at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall and a ceremony at the Royal Naval Cemetery, Lyness, Hoy.

Also this week, on Wednesday, it was the 76th anniversary of the HMS Royal Oak disaster, which is always marked with poignant commemorations here in Orkney. She was torpedoed by a U-boat while in Scapa Flow with the loss of 834 lives in the early days of the Second World War.

Meanwhile our work on the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire project continues – we are restoring Orkney’s Kitchener Memorial and creating a memorial wall engraved with the names of all 737 men lost with HMS Hampshire in time for the centenary on 5 June 2016.

George Petrie, lost with HM Drifter Laurel Crown (believed to be a family photograph published in The Orcadian when his death was announced)
George Petrie, lost with HM Drifter Laurel Crown (believed to be a family photograph published in The Orcadian when his death was announced)

Today we make a significant announcement. We are going to include on the wall the names of nine men who died when HM Drifter Laurel Crown sank in the same minefield as Hampshire on 22 June 1916. They include George Petrie, who came from Burray, Orkney.

Below is the press release we issued to the media this week. You may have heard about our plans to remember the Laurel Crown on BBC Radio Orkney this morning, or read about them in today’s The Orcadian (page 5) and in the Press & Journal.

Graham Brown

Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project press release

Laurel Crown crew to be remembered on Hampshire memorial

Volunteers creating a memorial wall for 737 men lost with HMS Hampshire in the First World War will also commemorate nine more men – including an Orcadian – lost in the same minefield later the same month.

HMS Hampshire sank near Orkney’s Atlantic coast on 5 June 1916 after hitting a German mine while sailing to Russia. The dead included Britain’s Secretary of State for War, Earl Kitchener.

On 22 June HM Drifter Laurel Crown was one of eight vessels on their way to sweep for mines near the site of the disaster when she too struck a mine and was lost, with all hands.

The names of the nine Laurel Crown men who died will be engraved on the HMS Hampshire commemorative wall being created next to the Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head. They include George Petrie, aged 32, a married man with one son from Burray.

Military historian Brian Budge has researched his background: “George Petrie was born at Wart, Burray on 8th August 1883, the oldest son of Crofter George Petrie and Betsy Petrie (née Brown). George’s parents had both died and he was working as a fisherman when he married Flora Taylor on 10th September 1914. They made their home at Wart and had a son, also called George.

“George enrolled into the Royal Naval Reserve at Kirkwall on 15th May 1916. He reported to HMS Zaria, an Auxiliary Patrol depot ship based at Longhope in Scapa Flow and soon joined the crew of HM Drifter Laurel Crown as a deck hand.”

After the sinking Engineman Thomas Baker’s body was recovered, identified and buried in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Hoy. George Petrie and four more of the crew are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, on Southsea Common, Hampshire. George is also remembered on a family gravestone in Burray Cemetery.

The loss of the Laurel Crown was brought to the attention of Orkney Heritage Society’s Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project by marine historian Kevin Heath, of SULA Diving, after he heard about the group’s plans at a public meeting.

Neil Kermode, project chair, said: “We started this project wanting to ‘better remember’ the men who died alongside Earl Kitchener in 1916. It seems entirely fitting that we should also commemorate those lost shortly afterwards on the Laurel Crown in the same minefield.”

The project’s volunteers are restoring the Kitchener Memorial and creating the commemorative wall in time for events on 5 June 2016 marking the centenary of the warship’s loss. Many donations of money, time and goods have been received but the volunteers estimate they need a further £15,000 to ensure work is finished before the centenary.

Anyone who wishes to donate towards the project can do so online at justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/ or send a cheque payable to Orkney Heritage Society.

The project committee would also like to hear from anyone who may have artefacts linked to HMS Hampshire for a planned exhibition around the time of the centenary. Please email kitchener.memorial@gmail.com or write to Orkney Heritage Society, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 9AD, UK.

Follow the progress of the project on Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial), Twitter (@kitchenerorkney) and via a blog at kitchenerhampshire.wordpress.com/.

End of press release

Links

BBC News on Battle of Jutland centenary – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34506679

Battle of Jutland centenary press release on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website –

http://www.cwgc.org/news-events/news/2015/10/uk-government-announces-plans-for-battle-of-jutland-centenary.aspx

The Orcadian reports on the Royal Oak 76th anniversary –

http://www.orcadian.co.uk/2015/10/memorial-service-marks-76th-anniversary-of-royal-oak-disaster/

BBC Radio Orkney reports on our Laurel Crown announcement. One of our committee members, Andrew Hollinrake, is interviewed, together with Brian Budge, towards the end of the programme –

https://soundcloud.com/radio-orkney/around-orkney-thursday-15th-october-2015

Eight months until an important First World War centenary

Restoration work progressing on the Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head, Orkney
Restoration work progressing on the Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head, Orkney

Eight months from today on the evening of 5 June 2016 a remembrance service will take place high above Orkney’s Atlantic shoreline exactly 100 years after 737 men were lost nearby when the Royal Navy warship HMS Hampshire sank.

The tragedy on 5 June 1916 claimed the life of Britain’s Secretary of State for War, Earl Kitchener, a hero of the British Empire, but also many other men whose names have barely featured in history.

Men like John William Harry Beechey, Stoker on the Hampshire, whose niece recently wrote to us with a photograph of her uncle.

John William Harry Beechey, Stoker on HMS Hampshire, one of 737 men lost on 5 June 1916
John William Harry Beechey, Stoker on HMS Hampshire, one of 737 men lost on 5 June 1916

The Kitchener Memorial was unveiled in 1926, and the 48-feet high stone tower overlooking the site of the sinking has become an iconic and important part of the Orkney coastline at Marwick Head.

Work is underway to restore the memorial in time for the centenary commemorations, which will be attended by many relatives of those lost with HMS Hampshire.

But volunteers from the Orkney Heritage Society project also want to “better remember” the sacrifice of the other men. A low commemorative wall is to be built alongside the tower, engraved with the names, arranged alphabetically, of everyone who died on that stormy June evening during the First World War.

Many generous donations of money, time, materials and mementoes have been received but, frustratingly, we still find ourselves around £15,000 short of the money we need to complete the project in time for next year’s centenary.

Thank you to everyone who has helped, in whatever way. If you would like to help financially please go to our JustGiving fund-raising page: https://www.justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/.

You can follow the progress of the project on Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial) and Twitter (@kitchenerorkney).

If you would prefer you can contact us via email – kitchener.memorial@gmail.com – or write to Orkney Heritage Society, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 9AD.

Graham Brown

Making connections

Postcards of HMS Hampshire
Postcards of HMS Hampshire donated to our project

One of the pleasures of volunteering with the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project is the connections we are able to make across the world, and languages, and into the past.

Recently two of our volunteers, Neil Kermode and Andrew Hollinrake, were interviewed for a report in Gaelic about our project on BBC Alba’s evening news programme. Fortunately they were able to make their contribution in English.

The TV report by Donald Morrison, with beautiful shots of Orkney’s scenery, was able to show that restoration is well underway on the Kitchener Memorial itself and good progress is being made on the new HMS Hampshire commemorative wall which will be engraved with the names of all 737 men lost, including Earl Kitchener, when the warship sank on 5 June 1916.

You may have read in our previous blog how members of the United States National Guard (Air and Army), visiting Scotland as part of their summer exchange, joined with Orkney’s own Royal Engineers to help progress the building work.

Memorial postcards for Earl Kitchener
Memorial postcards for Earl Kitchener donated to our project

And, thanks to the power of social media, we were contacted by Cathy Bryan on Facebook who said: “I live in the city of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada; it was renamed ‘Kitchener’ from ‘Berlin’ in honour of Lord Kitchener after his death. I would like to see the city somehow involved in the centenary or with the Kitchener memorial.”

We were thrilled to hear from Cathy and we hope to involve Kitchener, Ontario in our project. Many folk living in Orkney and who visit on holiday may not realise that the Canadian city has a Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex, home to the Kitchener Panthers baseball team and the Kitchener Rangers ice hockey team.

Meanwhile our appeal for memorabilia about the loss of HMS Hampshire has not gone unnoticed and Colin Nibbs of Crosby, Liverpool sent us a fascinating collection of material which will form part of a display to coincide with next year’s centenary.

This collection – as you can see in this blog – includes old photographs and postcards, as well as a copy of the official Admiralty report into the loss of HMS Hampshire, a good conduct medal and two copies of a book written by one of the 12 survivors of the tragedy, W.C. Phillips – one of them signed by the author.

Colin wrote to us to say: “They are gifted to you in memory of my maternal grandfather Frederick E Waight, Stoker P.O., number 308424 (Po), who perished on HMS Hampshire.”

Thank you Colin. Thank you also to everyone who has made financial and other donations to our project.

I should say we are still short of our fund-raising target – perhaps £15,000, or more, depending on the bills – so work on that front continues for us. If you would like to help please go to our JustGiving fund-raising page: https://www.justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/.

You can follow the progress of the project on Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial) and Twitter (@kitchenerorkney). If you would prefer you can contact us via email – kitchener.memorial@gmail.com – or write to Orkney Heritage Society, PO Box 6220, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 9AD.

Graham Brown

Links

Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex – http://www.theaud.ca/

Kitchener Panthers – http://kitchenerpanthers.pointstreaksites.com/view/kitchenerpanthers

Kitchener Rangers – http://kitchenerrangers.com/