Cover who killed kitchener

Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener is most famous today as the face of the poster that led the country’s recruitment drive during the early part of the First World War. But in recent years, with the recent release of records by the government, it has been the nature of his death that has stirred up passions long forgotten.

At the beginning of the campaign he had been appointed the Secretary of State for War by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. A controversial figure, who did not make friends easily in Cabinet, he became identified with some of the offensives that marred the war effort – and in particular the doomed campaign at Gallipoli.

In June 1916 he was aboard HMS Hampshire, setting out to sail from Scapa Flow in the Orkneys on a secret mission to bolster the Russian war effort. Just a mile off land, and in the teeth of a force nine gale, the Hampshire suffered a huge explosion, sinking in just fifteen minutes. Crew and passengers numbered 749, with only 100 managing to get into lifeboats. Of those 100 sailors just twelve men made it to shore and survived the sinking. Kitchener was presumed to have gone down with the ship.

Conspiracy rumours soon spread upon the announcement of his death, with German fifth columnists, Bolshevik infiltrators and Irish nationalist saboteurs all evoked, and fingers were even pointed at the British government. Here, David Laws describes the career of Lord Kitchener and examines in detail his end aboard the HMS Hampshire.

Laws owns the war medals of one of the twelve survivors and quotes extensively from their account of what happened on the 5 June 1916. This is a fascinating story of the events that shook the country during a time of war, and which have become shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories ever since.   

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  • Hardback, 384 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785902376
  • 14 March 2019
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  • £25.00

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  • ISBN: 9781785904929
  • 14 March 2019
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