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.

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