HMS Hampshire in a gale (Image © Andrew Hollinrake)

Orkney HMS Hampshire exhibition seeks 1916 stories & mementoes

Posted on on 12 March 2016
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Organisers of a forthcoming exhibition in the Orkney Islands are appealing for photos, letters and other memorabilia relating to the loss of the British warship, HMS Hampshire, in June 1916.

Hundreds of men died when the cruiser struck a mine, among them Britain's War Minister, Lord Kitchener, who was on his way to talks in Russia. There were only 12 survivors.

Birsay Heritage Trust is arranging an exhibition, 'Remembering the Hampshire', from June 3rd-5th 2016 to mark the centenary.

Chairman Keith Johnson said: "We hope the exhibition will interest local people and the many visitors expected here in June to remember the loss of the crew of HMS Hampshire, as well as Lord Kitchener and his staff, when she foundered after hitting a mine off Marwick Head.

"We are appealing to folk throughout Orkney, and the UK and abroad, for items, photographs, and memories."

Volunteers will also be working with Birsay Heritage Trust to record family stories related to the tragedy. The aim is to preserve them for future generations in both audio and written formats.

A replica model of HMS Hampshire has been specially commissioned for the exhibition in Birsay Community Hall, based on Admiralty plans obtained by the trust.

Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial

'Remembering The Hampshire'  complements Orkney Heritage Society's nearby Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project. 

On Sunday June 5th, an evening service will be held at Marwick Head to inaugurate a new commemorative wall engraved with the names of all 737 men, including Lord Kitchener, who died when HMS Hampshire sank just off the north coast of Orkney.

Another nine crewmen, lost when the minesweeping drifter Laurel Crown struck a mine in the same area, will be commemorated with those of the Hampshire.

The original 1920s clifftop monument dedicated to Field Marshal Kitchener is also being restored for the First World War Centenary.

As well as the 'Hampshire' exhibition, talks, films and catering are planned at Birsay Community Hall during the centenary weekend. 

Birsay Heritage Trust Chairman Keith Johnson said: "We hope the exhibition events will be a focal point for those attending the Centenary, enriching their visit and offering them some Orkney hospitality."

'Remembering The Hampshire' - supported by the Orkney Islands Council World War I Culture Fund - runs from June 3rd-5th 2016 at Birsay Community Hall.

Anyone who would like to offer artefacts or memories, or act as a volunteer, can contact Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, by telephone (07503 519328), email ( or by writing to: Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, Voluntary Action Orkney, Anchor Buildings, 6 Bridge Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HR. 

Alternatively, contact can be made through through Facebook (@Kitchener.Memorial), Twitter (@kitchenerorkney), the Kitchener & HMS Hampshire blog or the new HMS Hampshire history website

Source: Birsay Heritage Trust

Images courtesy of © Andrew Hollinrake

Posted by: CN Editorial Team