Quiet reflection planned for 101st anniversary of HMS Hampshire sinking

hms hampshire wall
Some of the many names on the HMS Hampshire commemorative wall (image: Orkney Heritage Society)

Nearly a year has passed since the wonderful and moving events to mark the centenary of the loss of HMS Hampshire and 737 men – and, since the last blog entry here.

But yesterday we issued a press release announcing plans for the 101st anniversary of the sinking which this year falls on a Monday. We have already received online coverage from The Orcadian and The Orkney News, and if you live in Orkney you may have heard us on BBC Radio Orkney’s news bulletin this morning (24 May).

This year’s event is explained in the press release below. I hope some of you will be able to join us on 5 June.

Graham Brown

Press release from Orkney Heritage Society’s Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project

The 101st anniversary of the loss of HMS Hampshire will be marked next month (June 2017) at Marwick Head, Orkney with a period of quiet reflection and a two-minute silence.

Last year a major event was held to commemorate the centenary of the warship’s loss, in which 737 men died. Relatives travelled many miles to join Orcadians during an evening service, and for a weekend of events which was attended by HRH The Princess Royal.

The 2016 service was a high-profile occasion and saw the official unveiling of the HMS Hampshire wall, bearing the names of all the men who were lost, built alongside the restored Kitchener Memorial.

This year volunteers from Orkney Heritage Society’s Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project committee and some of the participants in last year’s event will gather on Monday 5 June to carry out some improvements to the ground around the memorial – raking stones and planting grass seed – before gathering quietly together to commemorate the men lost.

Neil Kermode, committee chairman, said: “Our project to better remember the men of HMS Hampshire culminated in a wonderful service last year when relatives and local folk gathered in brilliant sunshine at Marwick Head.

“We feel it is important to continue our remembrance of the 737 with a low-key event this year. Everyone who wishes to join us for a common private reflection will be welcome.”

The work party will start at 7.30pm on Monday 5 June, and will gather for the reflection in time for the two-minute silence at 8.45pm, the time of HMS Hampshire’s sinking. Thoughts will also turn to the nine men of HM Drifter Laurel Crown, including Orcadian George Petrie, who died on 22 June 1916 and who are also commemorated on the wall.

There is more about HMS Hampshire and the memorial on Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial), Twitter (@kitchenerorkney), via a blog at kitchenerhampshire.wordpress.com/ and at the website, hmshampshire.org/.

Ends

Background notes to press release

HMS Hampshire and the sinking

HMS Hampshire, a Devonshire-class armoured cruiser, built by Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick, 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.

On 5 June 1916 Earl Kitchener, Britain’s Secretary of State for War, was heading to Russia to take part in talks. He set sail from the Royal Navy’s base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands on board HMS Hampshire.

But at about 8.45pm (British Summer Time), in a heavy storm, the warship hit a mine laid by a German u-boat just off Orkney’s Atlantic coast. There were only 12 survivors and 737 men, including Kitchener, died.

The Kitchener Memorial

Kitchener was a hero of the British Empire and in 1926 the Kitchener Memorial was unveiled at Marwick Head, Orkney, overlooking the site of the sinking.

The memorial, a 48-feet high stone tower, cost £734 to build, paid for by public subscription from Orcadians, and was unveiled in 1926. The site is now within an RSPB reserve.

The restoration project and building the wall

Planning permission was granted by Orkney Islands Council in February 2015 for work to restore the Kitchener Memorial. The stonework was 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 was approved in July 2015 for a low arc-shaped wall, a little over a metre high and made from local stone. The names of all the men lost, including Kitchener, are inscribed in inlaid granite on this wall together with the names of nine men lost with HM Drifter Laurel Crown on 22 June 1916.

Many generous private donations were received for the work, along with grants from Orkney Islands Council’s Community Development Fund and the War Memorials Trust. Casey Construction carried out the building work assisted, in part, by the Royal Engineers.

Research

For many years it was thought that about 640 men died when HMS Hampshire sank. But research by Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project volunteers has identified the names of 737 men who were lost.

Relatives of those who were on board HMS Hampshire, or others with knowledge about those lost and about HMS Hampshire, are invited to contact the project to share memories, artefacts and information (email: kitchener.memorial@gmail.com).

HMS Hampshire book

An Orkney Heritage Society book, “HMS Hampshire: a Century of Myths and Mysteries Unravelled”, which 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, is available from The Orcadian bookshop in Kirkwall or The Orcadian bookshop website.

Orkney Heritage Society

Orkney Heritage Society undertook the project, with the support of Birsay Heritage Trust, as its contribution to the centenary of World War I, 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.

Coverage of our latest press release to date

The Orcadian (23 May 2017)

The Orkney News (23 May 2017)

BBC Radio Orkney (24 May 2017)

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

HMS Hampshire Centenary Wood

We are delighted to hear that the Woodland Trust Scotland is to create an HMS Hampshire Centenary Wood on land owned by Orkney Islands Council.

The 746 trees will commemorate the 737 men lost with HMS Hampshire, which sank close to Orkney on 5 June 1916, and the nine men lost soon afterwards on HM Drifter Laurel Crown, who include Orcadian George Petrie from Burray.

Help is needed from the public to plant the trees, on land close to Kirkwall Grammar School, on Saturday 2 April. Free refreshments will be provided and car parking is available.

Jenny Taylor, local woodland consultant, worked with the trust to identify the site and choose the trees. She appeared on BBC Radio Orkney today to talk about the project, along with Andrew Hollinrake, from the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project. They spoke to Fionn McArthur (about 10 minutes into the programme):

To explain more, please see this page on the Woodland Trust website and the press release issued by the Woodland Trust Scotland, which is reproduced below.

Graham Brown

Press release from Woodland Trust Scotland

Kirkwall tree planting tribute to HMS Hampshire
For immediate release – 15 March 2016

The Woodland Trust Scotland will plant hundreds of trees in Kirkwall on Saturday 2 April to create HMS Hampshire Centenary Wood ahead of the centenary of the ship’s sinking off Marwick Head in June.

746 trees including hawthorn, hazel and rowan will be planted on land owned by Orkney Islands Council near to Kirkwall Grammar School.

Members of the public are invited to help plant the trees from 11am to 4pm. Car parking is available opposite Kirkwall Grammar School and free refreshments will be provided.

Jillian Donnachie from the Woodland Trust Scotland said: “The First World War affected every community in Britain. Through our Centenary Woods project we are planting millions of trees across the country as a special thanks to everyone who took part in the conflict.

“Thanks to Orkney Islands Council and our lead partner Sainsbury’s we are able to create the HMS Hampshire Centenary Wood in Kirkwall, which will stand as a growing tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragic events of June 1916.”

Orkney Island Council’s Convener, Steven Heddle, said: “With the national World War 1 commemorations taking place in Orkney this year, the HMS Hampshire Centenary Wood in Kirkwall will be an ongoing reminder of all the men who lost their lives from the sinking of the ship.

“The loss of the HMS Hampshire led to the building of Kitchener’s Memorial, where the names of those who died will be unveiled on a new memorial wall in June.

“Trees are something that will grow and develop over time and will continue to remind the people of Orkney of the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the service of their country.”

The saplings represent each of the men who died during the sinking of HMS Hampshire and the HM Drifter Laurel Crown. Both vessels sank in June 1916 after hitting mines off Marwick Head, Birsay.

HMS Hampshire was carrying Lord Kitchener to secret talks in Russia when it sank on June 5. 737 men drowned with just 12 survivors. The nine crewmen of the Laurel Crown, including Deck Hand George Petrie from Burray, died when it sank on June 22nd.

The Woodland Trust’s First World War Centenary Woods project will see four flagship woods created across the UK alongside many smaller community woods and millions of trees planted to honour all those involved in the First World War.

The First World War Centenary Woods are located at Langley Vale, Surrey, Dreghorn Woods, near Edinburgh, Coed Ffos Las in Carmarthenshire and Brackfield Wood in County Londonderry. The project is supported by lead partner Sainsbury’s, helping the Woodland Trust to plant millions of native trees to commemorate the First World War.

The Woodland Trust Scotland

The Trust has three key aims: i) to plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife; ii) to protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable; iii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, allowing native flora and fauna to return.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). In 1984, the Trust acquired its first wood in Scotland. Today the Trust owns 80 sites across Scotland covering 8,750 hectares.

The Woodland Trust is a charity registered in Scotland (No SC038885) and in England and Wales (No 294344). A non-profit making company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No 1982873. Registered Office: Kempton Way, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL. The Woodland Trust logo is a registered trademark.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s has supported the Woodland Trust since 2004 with the launch of free range Woodland eggs. Since then donations through product sales have expanded to chicken, turkey, apples and honey. The partnership has helped the Woodland Trust to plant two million trees, including establishing a special Sainsbury’s Wood at The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood in Leicestershire. The partnership has also enabled the Woodland Trust to provide support and advice to Sainsbury’s on tree planting and maintenance to deliver to their farmers across the UK. Most recently, Sainsbury’s is supporting Woodland Trust’s First World War Centenary Woods project, where four new woods and millions of trees will be planted to commemorate the First World War.

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

Royal Engineers & US National Guard boost our project

Boots on the scaffolding at the Kitchener Memorial (image: Leslie Burgher)
Boots on the scaffolding at the Kitchener Memorial (image: Leslie Burgher)
An aerial view of work to create the HMS Hampshire wall (image: Leslie Burgher)
An aerial view of work to create the HMS Hampshire wall (image: Leslie Burgher)

Our project has taken big strides in the past week with help from the British Army and US National Guard in restoring Orkney’s Kitchener Memorial and building a commemorative wall to the men lost with him on HMS Hampshire during the First World War.

A squad from 71 Engineer Regiment’s 10 (Orkney) Field Troop have been working with colleagues from both the US Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. They are due to finish their part of the project tomorrow (Tuesday 4 August).

Earl Kitchener himself served with the Royal Engineers so it was appropriate to have some of his successors working on his memorial’s restoration (mortar picking) and creating the foundations to the new HMS Hampshire commemorative wall, alongside our contractors Casey Construction Ltd.

The appearance of the military at Marwick Head caused much interest locally. You can read a detailed report in The Orcadian newspaper when it publishes on Thursday.

Meanwhile, take a listen to this edition of BBC Radio Orkney’s Around Orkney (11 minutes in)…

And take a look at this video (with audio) posted by Orkney.com…

Andrew Hollinrake, a member of our Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project committee, told the press: “We are most grateful to the Royal Engineers for their help on this important memorial work. Their effort moves our work on substantially, and reduces our funding gap. We are getting donations from relatives and others, but still have a gap to fill.

“Several of Kitchener’s party setting out for Russia were serving Army officers, and two senior civil servants from the Ministry of Munitions in the party were temporarily given Army rank, a Brigadier-General and a Lieutenant-Colonel, presumably for the benefit of the Russians who no doubt would expect such a military mission to be made up of high-ranking officers.

“Kitchener himself started his army career as an officer in the Corps of Royal Engineers, so it’s fitting that Orkney’s Army Reservists, alongside personnel from the USA, are helping with the work on his memorial since they are now part of 71 Engineer Regiment.”

Digging out the foundations of the HMS Hampshire wall (image: Leslie Burgher)
Digging out the foundations of the HMS Hampshire wall (image: Leslie Burgher)

Earl Kitchener, Britain’s Secretary of State for War, was among those lost when HMS Hampshire, sailing from Scapa Flow to Russia, sank just off Orkney’s Atlantic coast in 1916.

Restoration work started on the 90-year-old Kitchener Memorial, a 48-feet high stone tower, at the end of June. It involves restoring the stonework to its original condition, inspecting and repairing the roof, reinstating the ventilation and restoring the inspection doorway.

The HMS Hampshire wall – to “better remember” all those lost on HMS Hampshire – will, when complete, carry the engraved names of all 737 men lost with the warship.

Orkney Heritage Society volunteers still need around £15,000 to complete the project and are seeking further funding.

A fund-raising guided walk on Sunday led by Andrew to Stromness wartime sites, including the Ness Battery, raised £115.

Signpost to the Kitchener Memorial (image: Graham Brown)
Signpost to the Kitchener Memorial (image: Graham Brown)

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

Please continue to follow the progress of our project via this blog, on Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial) and Twitter (@kitchenerorkney).

Oh, and if you are a reader of the monthly magazine Living Orkney, we’re in that as well. L.C. Littlejohn’s article is in the August edition, in the shops now.

Graham Brown

HMS Hampshire commemorative wall: Arc design selected

The arc design for the HMS Hampshire commemorative wall (image: Leslie Burgher)
The arc design for the HMS Hampshire commemorative wall (image: Leslie Burgher)

A letter from our project chairman Neil Kermode, published in The Orcadian newspaper this week, announces the choice of shape for the HMS Hampshire commemorative wall – an arc. Here is the text of the letter:

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in our consultation about the design for the proposed HMS Hampshire commemorative wall by visiting our display at Birsay Community Hall, completing questionnaires or responding via Facebook and Twitter.

“The plan which received the most votes was the arc shaped wall, and the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial committee has agreed to proceed with this design.

“We will now seek planning permission to build the wall, a little over a metre high, next to the Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head. It will carry the names of more than 700 men who died, along with Earl Kitchener, when HMS Hampshire hit a mine and sank just off the coast in June 1916.

“I believe this will be an appropriate way to “better remember” these men as we approach the centenary of their loss.

“For the record, the number of votes cast for different wall shapes were 15 for the arc, 12 for the square wall, and three for the square with a cut-off corner. Two other ideas were also put forward.

“The creation of a commemorative wall is part of the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project, organised by Orkney Heritage Society with support from Birsay Heritage Trust. The Kitchener Memorial itself will be restored to its original 1926 condition, retaining its iconic profile.

“The restoration and commemorative wall are to be officially unveiled at events marking the centenary of the sinking on Sunday 5 June 2016, and already a number of relatives of those who died are making plans to visit Orkney for the occasion.

“Finally, thank you to everyone who has already contributed financially towards this project via our fund-raising page justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/.”

Neil Kermode, Chairman, Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial committee, Quarry House, Finstown

Meanwhile, did you catch the BBC Two Scotland two-part documentary, Scotland’s War At Sea? The first part was The Dreadnoughts Of Scapa Flow and part two – which told the story of the sinking of HMS Hampshire – was The Battle Of The U-Boats.

Both programmes, presented by David Hayman, feature shots of Orkney and interviews with Orcadians. There is still time to watch these programmes on BBC iPlayer, as I write, but the clock is ticking: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05qy7nq.

And, if you are in Orkney, the classic silent film The Battles of Coronel And Falkland Islands, made in 1927, is showing at the Phoenix Cinema at the Pickaquoy Centre, Kirkwall on Friday 8 May. Described as a thrilling reconstruction of two decisive naval battles from the early stages of the First World War, the film has been restored by the British Film Institute.

You can hear Bryony Dixon of the BFI talk about the film on BBC Radio Orkney’s Around Orkney programme for today, Friday 24 April. Her interview starts just before the 24 minutes mark…

https://soundcloud.com/radio-orkney/around-orkney-24th-april-2015.

I will be at the cinema on 8 May, perhaps I’ll see you there.

Graham Brown

Project update: stone appeal – and creating a stir in Portsmouth

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

Hello again. First of all thank you to everyone who is taking an interest in our Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project, following the blog, adding likes on our Facebook page, re-Tweeting us, making donations, spreading the word, whatever you are doing it is a great help, and much appreciated.

Thank you also to everyone who came on our fund-raising tour of Orkney’s Ness Battery and shoreline, organised and led by one of our project volunteers, Andrew Hollinrake. This raised more than £120 and boosted the local war-time knowledge of those attending.

You may have heard on BBC Radio Orkney, or read on The Orcadian website, that we hope to organise a giant recycling project by sourcing stone somewhere in the West Mainland of Orkney for our proposed commemorative wall to the 736 men lost on HMS Hampshire.

We are looking for someone with suitable stone, or a ruin, on their land that we could use to build the wall; an opportunity to get what might be the remains of an old family home, or perhaps an old animal shelter, turned into a significant war memorial.

Our press release explaining more about this appeal for help is reproduced at the bottom of this blog.

Scotland Outdoors magazine
Scotland Outdoors magazine

Recent press coverage of our Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project includes Scotland Outdoors (which has a feature on Orkney in its March/April edition), the Culture24 website and the Portsmouth News.

The Portsmouth News article received an amazing response. Nine groups potentially interested in coming to Orkney for next year’s HMS Hampshire centenary commemorations contacted the journalist Chris Owen. And our JustGiving website received a significant boost in donations. Thank you all.

Graham Brown

Some recent press coverage

Portsmouth News (4 March 2015)

The Orcadian (4 March 2015)

Culture24 (25 February 2015)

Our press release about the stone appeal

Opportunity to recycle old stone into war memorial

Volunteers behind plans to build a commemorative wall for the 736 men lost on HMS Hampshire in 1916 are hoping to create an unusually large recycling project in Orkney.

The planned wall, to be built next to the Kitchener Memorial, will be around 20 metres long and the project team hope to find the required stone somewhere in West Mainland.

“We are looking for someone with some suitable stone, or a ruin, on their land in the West Mainland, preferably Birsay, that we could use to build the wall,” said Neil Kermode, chair of the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project.

Because this is a specialist job we are looking for several possible donors and we will then get the masons to pick the stone they think will work best.

I hope potential donors will see this as an opportunity to get what might be the remains of an old family home, or perhaps an old animal shelter, whatever it is, turned into a significant war memorial that will be visited by hundreds of people.”

The project team will arrange the removal of the chosen stone from the land and the delivery to the tower.

Anyone who would like to offer stone can email kitchener.memorial@gmail.com or write to Neil Kermode, Quarry House, Finstown, Orkney, KW17 2JY.

The planned wall, subject to planning permission, will be a little over a metre high. Local building stone will be used for the seaward side. The names of the 736 men who died, including Kitchener, will be engraved in granite in order to be more weather resistant.

The project team also plan to restore the Kitchener Memorial to its original condition. Orkney Islands Council has already granted planning permission for this part of the project which will see the tower’s stonework restored to its original condition, the roof inspected and repaired, the ventilation reinstated and the former inspection doorway in the memorial restored.

You can follow the progress of the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project on Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial), Twitter (@kitchenerorkney) and via a blog at kitchenerhampshire.wordpress.com/.

Fund-raising is underway for the £200,000 project and donations are welcome via the group’s JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety.

A fund-raising tour of Ness Battery (on Saturday 21 February), led by Andrew Hollinrake, one of the project team volunteers, raised more than £120.

End of press release