Who is Lord Kitchener? Horatio Kitchener was a national war hero in WWI born on this day in 1850 in County Kerry, Ireland.
He is perhaps most famous for the iconic recruitment poster: “Your country needs YOU”. This famous advertisement was responsible for the enlistment of millions of men and has since become one of the most recognised propaganda pieces of the war.
Despite its huge success, only 10,000 copies of the poster were made and now, sadly, only three survive. Two hang proudly on display in museums on different sides of the world – one being the Imperial War Museum, London, and the other in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. The third poster was put up for sale in 2014 and fetched a staggering £30,000. The previous owner bought the poster for £100 in 1983 – we’d call that a pretty good return on investment.
A bit more than a face on a poster…
Horatio Herbert Kitchener wasn’t just a face on famous poster though. He was a British military leader and statesmen in the First World War. He foresaw the war lasting several years, rather than months, and planned accordingly, despite being in the minority among his colleagues who thought this. Thankfully, due to his military prowess and foresight he was able to organise armies on an unprecedented scale.
He vastly expanded the army from 20 to 70 divisions within two years – known as Kitchener’s Army. Kitchener effectively oversaw war strategy for the first year-and-a-half of the war. After the Battle of Mons in 1914 he traveled to Ypres to stiffen the weakening resolve of Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).
Sadly, his cabinet colleagues did not share the public’s love for Kitchener and following an attack by Lord Northcliffe’s newspaper in 1915 over a shortage of shells, responsibility for munitions was taken from him; later that year he was stripped of control over strategy.
His involvement with the Dardanelles campaign led to a further tarnishing of his reputation in the cabinet. In June 1916, Kitchener was sent on a mission to Russia to encourage Russian resistance to Germany. Kitchener’s ship, H.M.S Hampshire struck a German mine off the coast of Orkney and sank. Kitchener sadly drowned on 5th June 1916.