Herbert Horatio Kitchener (1850–1916) was best known for his
famous recruitment posters bearing his heavily moustachioed face
and pointing hand over the legend, "Your country needs you".
Commissioned in the Royal Engineers, in 1886 Kitchener was
appointed governor of the British Red Sea territories and
subsequently became commander-in-chief of the Egyptian army in
1892. In 1898 he crushed the separatist Sudanese forces of al-Mahdi
in the Battle of Omdurman and then occupied the nearby city of
Khartoum, where his victory saw him ennobled in 1898.
In 1900 he became commander in chief of the Boer War, where he
fought the guerrillas by burning farms and herding women and
children into disease-ridden concentration camps. These ruthless
measures helped weaken resistance and bring British victory.
On returning to England in 1902 he was created Viscount
Kitchener and was appointed commander in chief in India. In
September 1911 he became the proconsul of Egypt, ruling there
and in the Sudan until August 1914. When the First World War
broke out, Kitchener accepted an appointment to the cabinet as
Secretary of State for War. His cabinet associates did not
share the public's worship of Kitchener and gradually relieved
him of his responsibilities for industrial mobilisation and then
strategy. He was killed in 1916 when HMS Hampshire was sunk by a
German mine while taking him to Russia.
Kitchener, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl, British field
marshal and statesman. Trained at the Royal Military Academy,
Woolwich (1868–70), he had a brief period of service in the
French army before being commissioned (1871) in the Royal
Engineers. After duty in Palestine and Cyprus, he was attached
(1883) to the Egyptian army, then being reorganized by the
British. He took part (1884–85) in the unsuccessful attempt to
relieve Charles George Gordon at Khartoum. He was then (1886–88)
governor-general of Eastern Sudan and helped (1889) turn back
the last Mahdist invasion of Egypt. In 1892 he was made
commander in chief of the Egyptian army and in 1896 began the
invasion of Sudan, having prepared the way by a reorganization
of the army and the construction of a railway along the Nile. A
series of victories culminated (1898) in the battle of Omdurman
and the reoccupation of Khartoum. He forestalled a French
attempt to claim part of Sudan (see Fashoda Incident) in the
same year and was made governor of Sudan.
In 1899, Kitchener was
appointed chief of staff to Lord Roberts in the Anglo-Boer War.
He reorganized transport, led an unsuccessful attack on
Paardeberg, and suppressed a Boer revolt near Prieska. When
Roberts returned to England late in 1900, believing the Boer
resistance crushed, Kitchener was left to face continued
guerrilla warfare. By a slow extension of fortified blockhouses,
the incarceration of civilians in concentration camps, and the
systematic destruction of farm lands and livestock, Kitchener
finally secured a peace treaty with the Boers (1902).
He was created viscount and
sent to India as commander in chief of British forces there. He
redistributed the troops and gained greater administrative
control of the army in the face of serious opposition from the
viceroy Lord Curzon. He left India in 1909, was made field
marshal, and served (1911–14) as consul general in Egypt. He was
made an earl in 1914.
At the outbreak of World War I,
Kitchener was recalled to England as Secretary of State for War.
However, his relations with the cabinet were strained. In 1915
when he was attacked by the newspapers of Lord Northcliffe for
the shortage of shells, responsibility for munitions was taken
away from him, and later in the same year he was stripped of
control over strategy. He offered to resign, but his colleagues
feared the effect on the British public, which still idolized
him. In 1916, Kitchener embarked on a mission to Russia to
encourage that flagging ally to continued resistance. His ship,
the H.M.S. Hampshire, hit a German mine and sank off the Orkney
Islands, and he was drowned.
Not a Sad Moment