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Commemorative Handkerchief, WWI

  • commemorative handkerchief, WWI

This commemorative handkerchief is dedicated to Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916). Kitchener was a considered a hero of the British Empire and had served in British campaigns in Egypt, Sudan and the Anglo-Boer War (1899-902). In 1914 Kitchener was appointed Secretary of State for War by British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith (1852-1928). Kitchener is most famously known as the face of the 1914 recruitment poster ‘Britons Your County Needs You.’

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The poster did much to inspire patriotic fervour and duty and hundreds of thousands joined the army.  In 1914 Kitchener correctly predicted that the war would last a further 3 years and would lead to attritional casualties and that victory would be provided by the final million men. He therefore increased the size of the British Army. 

In 1915 Kitchener was criticised in The Times by Field Marshal Sir John French (1852-1925) for failing to organise the supply of enough high explosive shells to troops fighting and dying in large numbers on the Western Front. High explosive shells were required to destroy the barbed wire, fortified entrenchments and decimating machine gun fire that constantly inflicted heavy casualties on advancing soldiers. As a result of the scandal the Liberal Government and Kitchener lost their places in the new war cabinet. In 1916 as Kitchener travelled on a diplomatic mission to Russia on HMS Hampshire, the ship hit a German mine west of the Orkney Islands.  Kitchener, his staff, and 643 of the crew of 655 were drowned or died of exposure. His body was never found.

Key facts: 
  • This commemorative hadkerchief captures the emotive propaganda used to recruit soldiers and public support for WWI

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