Horatio Herbert Kitchener

Horatio Herbert Kitchener,  KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC

Jun 24, 1850 to Jun 5, 1916

General Lord Kitchener
General Lord Kitchener

Horatio Kitchener was born in Ballylongford near Listowel, County Kerry in Ireland to Lt. Col Henry Horatio Kitchener and Frances Anne Chevallier-Cole. Kitchener was educated in Switzerland where the family lived for awhile then attended the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich before being commissioned into the Royal Engineers on January 4, 1871.

At the age of 24 Kitchener was assigned by the Palestine Exploration Fund to a mapping survey of the Holy Land. He and fellow Royal Engineer, Claude R. Conder surveyed what today is Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in the Survey of Western Palestine. Kitchener later served as Vice-Consul in Anatolia, and in 1883 as a Captain in the occupation of Egypt. The following year he served as an Aide de Camp during the failed Gordon relief expedition in the Sudan. It was during this time that his fiancée, Hermoine Baker died of typhoid in Cairo. Kitchener subsequently had no children but did raise his young cousin Bertha Chevallier-Boutell, daughter of his first cousin.

In the late 1880’s, Kitchener was Governor of the Red Sea territories with the rank of Colonel. In 1896 by now a Major General, he led his British and Egyptian forces up the Nile building a railway to supply arms and reinforcements and defeated the Sudanese at the Battle of Omdurman near Khartoum on September 2, 1898. Kitchener’s second tour of the Sudan won him national fame and rewards. He was made Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria and created Baron Kitchener of Khartoum During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) Kitchener as second in command headed the much criticized frontal assault at the Battle of Paardeburg in February 1900. Kitchener assumed overall command of the British forces in November 1900 and embarked on a brutal scorched earth policy campaign which consisted of burning Boer farms, slaughtering livestock and moving women, children and the elderly into concentration camps. The Treaty of Vereeniging signed in 1902 brought the war to an end.

Kitchener, by now a full General, was made Commander-in-Chief in India between 1902 and 1909 where he reorganized the Indian Army. Kitchener was promoted to the highest Army rank, Field Marshall, in 1910 and went on a world tour before returning to Egypt as British Agent and Consul-General between 1911 and 1914. At the outset of World War 1, Kitchener was appointed Secretary of State for War. In an effort to relieve pressure on the western front ,Kitchener proposed the invasion of Alexandretta but was eventually persuaded to support Winston Churchill’s disastrous Gallipoli campaign in 1915-16. The failure of that campaign, along with the Shell Crisis of 1915, in which it was widely perceived that the artillery shells used by the British Army were inadequate dealt Kitchener’s political reputation a heavy blow. On June 15, 1916 on a diplomatic mission to Russia on the HMS Hampshire, Kitchener, his staff and 643 of the crew of 655 were drowned or died of exposure when the vessel struck a German mine. Kitcheners body was never found.