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

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.

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

scott_mcivor2
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.

IMG_20151210_071859
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.