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Herbert Kitchener

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Earl Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916)

1916 Obituary [1]

Field-Marshal The Right Hon. EARL KITCHENER OF KHARTOUM, KG., K.P., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.S.I., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., D.C.L. (Oxon..), LLD. (Cantab.), whose tragic death, in the destruction of H.M.S. “Hampshire” off the Orkneys on the 5th June, 1916, was a national loss, exemplified pre-eminently in his career the important influence of engineering both upon military science and economic development. In view of the very full accounts of his life and notable achievements which have appeared in the public press, a brief reference to the principal facts, in so far as they illustrate his connection with engineering science, will suffice for the purposes of this record.

Horatio Herbert Kitchener was born on the 24th June, 1850, at Gunsborough House, near Listowel, Co. Kerry, and was the second son of Lieut.-Col. H. H. Kitchener, of Cossington, Leicestershire. He was educated privately, and entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1868. Whilst a cadet at Woolwich, he volunteered for service with the French Army, and served in the winter of 1870-71 in the Franco-Prussian War. In January, 1871, he was granted a commission in the Royal Engineers, and after the usual course at Chatham and a brief period of practical work at Aldershot,, he was appointed in 1874 to make surveys and maps for the Palestine Exploration Society, a work involving considerable difficulty and danger, which he completed successfully in 1878. He was subsequently chosen to carry out similar work in Cyprus. He served through the Egyptian campaign of 1882, was made a C.B. in 1889, succeeded Sir Francis Grenfell as Sirdar in 1892 and was created K.C.M.G. in 1894. The Soudan campaign of 1898 probably illustrated most effectively his ability in applying engineering methods and scientific organization to warfare, the influence of the railway and steamboat in that campaign being considerable. He was later to apply the same organizing skill on a larger scale in South Africa in 1899-1902, when he acted first as Chief of the Staff to Lord Roberts, and from Novtmbcr, 1900, was in chief command. Shortly after the conclusion of pence he was appointed Commander-in-Chief in India, where for the next seven years he found ample scope for his energies. As the result of his labours, the Indian Army was completely reorganized and the defence of India placed upon an entirely new basis. Returning home by way of Australia and New Zealand, he made, at the invitation of the Colonial authorities, a characteristically thorough investigation of Australasian defences. He was made a FieldMarshal in September, 1909.

After serving for a time as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, he returned in 191 1 to the sphere of his earlier influence as British agent and Consul-General for Egypt. Under his regime the country made marked economic progress, and true to his predilection for engineering, he encouraged in every way the development of the country by extensive land-drainage and reclamation schemes and other engineering and agricultural enterprises.

In July, 1914, he was elevated to the peerage as Earl Kitchener of Khartoum. Being in England at the outbreak of war, he was appointed Secretary of State for War on the 5th August, 1914.

His labours were incessant, and even for one of his remarkable capacity, exceptionally severe ; but he was not destined to see their final fruition. History must record his last great services to his country.

Lord Kitchener was elected an Honorary Member of The Institution on the 2nd February, 1904, on account of his services “as a soldier in Egypt, the Soudan and South Africa, and for the remarkable work done by him as a Military Engineer.”

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