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Memorial wall to be built for men lost in WW1 HMS Hampshire disaster

Memorial wall to be built for men lost in WW1 HMS Hampshire disaster
29 January 2016
The names of every man lost in a naval disaster which was a bodyblow to the British Empire will be unveiled on a new memorial to mark the centenary.

War Minister Lord Kitchener, his staff and all but 12 of the crew of the cruiser HMS Hampshire were lost when she struck a freshly-laid German mine off the Orkneys.

The tragedy came just two days after news of the titanic clash between the British and German Navies at Jutland – a battle whose immediate outcome came as a huge disappointment to the British public.

Orcadians erected am imposing tower on the headland overlooking the site of the wreck at Marwick Head to mark the tenth anniversary of the disaster.

As part of the centenary commemorations, the Kitchener Memorial is undergoing extensive restoration.

In addition, a memorial wall is being added as part of the £200,000 project by the Orkney Heritage Society.

Detailed research by historians Brian Budge and Andrew Hollinrake has resulted in the most accurate roll of honour for the Hampshire ever produced.

Some 737 names will be inscribed in panels on the wall, which will arc around the tower, with a separate panel for the staff of Lord Kitchener – and another one bearing the names of nine men killed on the drifter Laurel Crown, which was blown up in June 1916 while trying to clear the minefield.

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

Historian Andrew Hollinrake

Kitchener of Khartoum was among the most famous figures in Britain – it was his face on the iconic poster urging men to volunteer in 1914. He and his staff were heading to northern Russia on a diplomatic mission to discuss the conduct of the war.

On the back of Jutland 100 commemorations in nearby Kirkwall and nearby Scapa Flow on May 31, a Royal Navy ship and Royal Marines musicians are also due to take part in the HMS Hampshire centenary events.

“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,” said Mr Hollinrake.

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

He and Mr Budge ploughed through newspaper archives, official documents held by the National Archives in Kew and Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Maidenhead, as well as speaking to relatives and family historians and corrected the original death toll, which was ‘only’ 650.

Orkney Heritage Society has almost hit its fundraising target ahead of the centenary with under £10,000 to go.

You can make a donation via justgiving.com/orkneyheritagesociety and you can scroll through the roll of honour at hmshampshire.org

In due course, the historians are hoping to embellish the roll with more details and photographs of the men lost.

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