In the icy waters of the North Sea on June 5, 1916, the British cruiser Hampshire strikes a German mine and sinks off the Orkney Islands; among the passengers and crew drowned is Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the British secretary of state for war.
After serving in the colonial administrations of both India and Egypt, Kitchener was appointed secretary of war by Prime Minister H.H. Asquith upon the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914. Kitchener, the first member of the military to hold the post, was responsible for building up Britain's army to face Germany—a country that, after steadily building and improving its armed forces for the past 40 years, was by 1914 in possession of the European continent's most powerful land army.
By the summer of 1916, however, Kitchener had become a controversial figure, especially in the wake of the Allied failure to gain a victory against the Turks in their ambitious land invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula the previous spring. After Gallipoli, Kitchener had forfeited a good deal of credibility as a military strategist, and many of his fellow ministers had long lost faith in his efficacy and nerve. The British public, on the other hand, still regarded him as the man who embodied the strength and resolve behind the government's war strategy.
In early June 1916, Kitchener left London aboard the cruiser Hampshire on a diplomatic mission to Russia, where he was to encourage that volatile ally to continue mounting a stiff resistance to their common enemy, Germany, on the Eastern Front of the war. On June 5, while traveling off the Orkney Islands, northwest of Scapa Flow in the North Sea, the Hampshire was sunk by a German mine, killing the war secretary and his colleagues.
Kitchener's contribution to racial hatredExperts are agreed on the fact that Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, Commanding in Chief of the British forces during the Anglo Boer War and the person responsible for concentration camps, contributed greatly to the racial hatred which caused immense divisions in South Africa. Kitchener with personal "valet"A BBC documentary programme revealed that he told blatant lies over scandalous practices during the war. The programme Kitchener, the Empire's Flawed Hero which formed part of a BBC series titled Reputations, attracted much attention over hints that Kitchener had homosexual tendencies.
Sir Thomas Pakenham refers to a tame swallow Kitchener cosseted. When the swallow escaped, Kitchener is said to have found this more upsetting than anything else which happened during the war. Pakenham pointed to the latest South African research which suggest that as many as 30 000 blacks had been detained in British concentration camps and that Kitchener used them as labourers - his attitude reflected in his words: "Let the kaffirs do the rest."
Pakenham maintains that conditions in black concentration camps were even worse than those in white camps which claimed the lives of 26 000 women and children, also revealing the shocking fact that they received no rations. Until Kitchener resorted to the practice, it had been an unwritten agreement that nobody would involve blacks or coloured people in the war - that it was a white man's war - Pakenham contends.
The late Judge M T Steyn refers to him in the programme as a man who had claws instead of nails, and author Dot Serfontein said his decision to arm blacks had fomented racial hatred.
Taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/british-war-minister-lord-kitchener-drowns & http://angloboer.com/arthatred.htm [05.06.2013]