On this day in history : 5th June 1916 – Whilst on its way to Russia, carrying Lord Kitchener on a diplomatic mission, HMS Hampshire hits a mine off of the Orkney Islands…. 737 lives are lost, including that of Lord Kitchener….
HMS Hampshire had been ordered to carry Kitchener from Scapa Flow to Russia – where he was to meet with Tsar Nicholas II for face to face talks about munitions shortages….
Due to gale force winds Admiral Sir John Jellicoe altered the route that Hampshire had been due to take – despite there having been reports of U-boat sightings in the area….
Just after 7.30pm, in a force 9 gale, the ship struck a mine – which had been laid a week before approximately one and a half miles off of mainland Orkney, by U-boat U75, commanded by Kurt Beitzen…. Within 20 minutes HMS Hampshire had sunk….
Kitchener was last seen standing on the quarterdeck – his body was never recovered…. All 10 of his entourage perished – altogether 737 lost their lives, only 12 members of the crew survived….
The shock was felt all over the British Empire…. Many wondered how on earth the war could be won without Kitchener…. King George V wrote in his diary “It is indeed a heavy blow to me and a great loss to the nation and the allies” …. He ordered that all army officers were to wear black armbands for a week….