The Kitchener Memorial undergoing restoration on Marwick Head, Orkney. A new commemorative wall alongside will honour the men lost on HMS Hampshire and HM Drifter Laurel Crown (Photo: Scott McIvor)

More sailors to be remembered on HMS Hampshire memorial in Orkney

Posted on on 18 November 2015
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Volunteers creating a memorial to the crewmen killed in the sinking of the British warship, HMS Hampshire, off Orkney in June 1916 also plan to include the names of nine more men – lost on a mine-sweeping vessel days later.  

HMS Hampshire, a Devonshire-class armoured cruiser, was on its way to Russia during the First World War when it struck a mine two miles off Marwick Head, on the north coast of the Orkney Mainland.

Among the 737 men lost was Britain's Secretary of State for War, Field Marshal Lord Kitchener. 

Later that same month, HM Drifter Laurel Crown, one of eight vessels sent to sweep for mines near the site of the Hampshire sinking, also struck a mine and was lost with all hands.

Now the names of the nine crew, among them an Orkney fisherman George Petrie, will be engraved on the memorial wall to be erected beside the Kitchener Memorial on Marwick Head.

Petrie, who was 32, had only recently enrolled into the Royal Naval Reserve and was serving as a deckhand.

The wall is being created by volunteers from the Orkney Heritage Society who are also restoring the Kitchener Memorial in time for the 100th anniversary of the Hampshire sinking on June 5th 2016.

Project chair, Neil Kermode, said: "We started this project wanting to 'better remember' the men who died alongside Earl Kitchener in 1916. It seems entirely fitting that we should also commemorate those lost shortly afterwards on the Laurel Crown in the same minefield."

The Kitchener Memorial is a 48-feet high stone tower which cost £734 when it was unveiled in 1926. It was funded from public subscription by the people of Orkney.

The stonework is being restored to its original condition, the roof repaired, the ventilation reinstated and the former inspection doorway restored. A low arc-shaped wall, a metre-high, and made from local stone will be erected beside the memorial and will include the names of all the men lost.

Volunteers estimate they need to raise a further £15,000 in donations to ensure the project is completed for the 2016 Centenary. Full details can be found on the Kitchener and HMS Hampshire Memorial blog.

The project committee would also like to hear from anyone who may have artefacts linked to HMS Hampshire for a planned exhibition around the time of the Centenary.

Source: Kitchener and HMS Hampshire Memorial Project

Images courtesy of Scott McIvor

Posted by: Jim Hamilton, Centenary News