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

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Orkney & Shetland feature on BBC Radio Scotland’s World War One At Home

Neil Kermode is interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland
Neil Kermode is interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland

BBC Radio Scotland’s World War One At Home series is to feature the story of Earl Kitchener and the sinking of HMS Hampshire as part of a week of programmes from Orkney and Shetland.

Neil Kermode, Chair of the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project committee, is interviewed for the HMS Hampshire programme which will be broadcast on Tuesday (26 May), telling listeners about the warship’s sinking close to the Orkney coast with the loss of hundreds of men.

Monday’s programme has Andrew Hollinrake – another of our committee members – talking about the importance of the Ness Battery at Stromness.

Edwin Dunning, the first pilot to land an aircraft on a moving ship (in Scapa Flow), is the subject on Wednesday and on Thursday it is the turn of the Shetland Blockade.

The programmes, each five minutes or so long, will be broadcast on Good Morning Scotland (0600-0900), John Beattie (1200-1330) and Newsdrive (1600-1830). The exact times for for the pieces being played are not available. And because these are live news programmes which react to the day’s news, there is always the possibility that a piece may be dropped.

But don’t worry if you miss them. The stories are made available to listen online after broadcast via this page, which has a wealth of other fascinating material: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01p33jl.

If you are new to the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project, we aim to restore the Kitchener Memorial, situated on Marwick Head, Orkney, and create an adjacent HMS Hampshire commemorative wall, engraved with the names of all the men who were lost when the ship sank on 5 June 1916 after hitting a mine.

If you would like to contribute financially to the £200,000 project please do so at justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety. Thank you for your interest.

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

A special fund-raising tour of wartime Orkney

Project team member Andrew Hollinrake is running a special tour to the Ness Battery in Stromness, Orkney this Saturday (21 February 2015). All are welcome, entry is by donation. All money collected will go towards our Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project.

The walk, taking place on International Tourist Guide Day, will be along the Ness shore, exploring some of the wartime relics, then visiting Ness Battery, including its mess hall with the famous mural. Ness Battery is an important relic of Orkney’s wartime heritage and once defended Scapa Flow against enemy attack.

Saturday’s tour starts at 2.00pm, at the Point of Ness, and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Andrew says: “Please note there are no bathroom facilities along this route. It is also rather exposed, so please wrap up warm!” No booking is required.

Ness Battery (image: courtesy of Ness Battery)
Ness Battery (image: courtesy of Ness Battery)

There is more about Ness Battery here – https://www.facebook.com/NessBattery.

And more about International Tourist Guide Day here – http://www.wftga.org/tourist-guiding/february-21st-international-tourist-guide-day.

As well as donating on Saturday’s walk, you can also contribute to our Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project by going to https://www.justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety/.

To remind you, we aim to restore the Kitchener Memorial, at Marwick Head on Orkney’s Atlantic coast, and build a commemorative wall engraved with the names of all 736 men lost when HMS Hampshire sank in June 1916.

Meanwhile, two pieces of good news for our project since our last blog: Orkney Islands Council has given planning permission for the restoration work on Kitchener Tower.

The Times of 14 February 2015
The Times of 14 February 2015

And on Saturday The Times published a double-page spread about the project.

Once again, thank you for following our project, and for the generous donations we have already received.

Graham Brown