Memorial Service to Lord Kitchener – Summer Term 1917

Stirring Address by the Hon. Lady Hulse

A Memorial Service to Lord Kitchener on the Anniversary of his death was held at the Godolphin School, Salisbury, on Tuesday evening, and a Roll of Honour of the names of the relations and friends of past and present members of the School was read. The National Anthem and suitable hymns, accompanied by the School Orchestra, were sung. Miss Douglas read two “lessons” from Revelation XIV. and XV., and the other from Wisdom III. At the commencement, the Hon. Lady Hulse gave an address on Lord Kitchener. She said :­A year ago to-night the sea, which is at once the source of our strength and of our weakness, took from us Lord Kitchener of Khartoum: the man who we feel stands at the head of that band of heroes of our own, whose deeds we honour in our Service to-night, and whose deaths we mourn: the man, who, in the early days in the war, roused England from end to end to a sense of her danger and her need, and who, by the magic of his name and the power of his personality, called into being that great new Army, Kitchener’s Army, which convinced our enemies that the heart of England was sound, and which on battle­field upon battlefield has justified Lord Kitchener’s supreme faith in it, by countless deeds of heroism, and by cheerful endurance of untold hardship and suffering. Those of us who worked at recruiting in the first months of the war realised to the full the power of Lord Kitchener’s name, and we used it for all it was worth, for we knew that we were using something worthy of England and worthy of the cause in which England had drawn the sword. The power of his name was all the more remarkable because Lord Kitchener had spent practi­cally all his life away from home, helping to strengthen that far-flung battle-line of ours, fighting always with clean hands for the honour of England as well as for her power and her might. But the secret of the magic of his name lay in this, that England still loves and is faithful to a man who is upright as well as fearless.


Many of you here to-night have heard Lord Kitchener criticised; You have heard that he made mistakes in his conduct of the war. It is true, and he would be the first to acknowledge it, and it is equally true that in all the countries engaged in this war, either with us or against us, the statesmen, the generals, and the leaders have made mistakes and are making them still. And for this reason, that the magnitude of the war is such, and the stagnation of it, that it long since passed beyond the power of successful human direction to a given military issue. It is a hard fact to face; but we have got to face it, not only without being discouraged or disheartened, but with greater endeavour and greater endurance than we have ever shown before. When we remember the stupendous organisation, the vast numbers of men engaged, the deadly nature of the weapons employed in the destruction of human life, for that is what Germany has brought us to, that almost all the finest scientific brains of the world are employed at this moment in inventing or in perfecting means for destroying human life; when we realise these things we can surely feel that the forces of destruction which man has himself devised and perfected have passed beyond his own power to direct to a definitely successful end. We shall defeat the Germans because the power is being given to us to outlast them, and in so doing we shall help to save the world itself from the degradation and misery of German domination. If Lord Kitchener were with us still, his cool, calm courage would help us to face and to accept this fact, that there is glory in a victory of endurance as well as in a victory by sheer force of arms. We shall continue to pray unceasingly and unswervingly for that victory which will be ours at last, though it will not be the victory of our dreams. And, realising all these things, I ask you to remember that only those men have the right to criticise Lord Kitchener who have done as much as he had done for the Empire, and who have spent the years he had spent in the Empire’s service. And as to the men who attack him, they, you can remember, are not worthy even to count the medals which he had won in his country’ service.
You children will live on into the years when this war will have become history, when things will be seen in their true proportion. when the names of the little men will be forgotten, and only the names of the great men survive. In those days the man who died for England a Year ago to-night, will come into his own. For men are judged at the bar of eternal justice by all the things that matter most, by their knowledge of what is right and what is wrong, by their devotion to duty, by their fearlessness of mind as well as heart, and so we know that the spirit of Kitchener had nothing to fear when it rose from the sea a year ago to face that great ordeal.


Lord Kitchener’s work for Egypt. one of the finest pages in the history of his life, is not realised and appreciated in England as it should be. A friend of mine who was a, great friend of Lord Kitchener’s, has made some notes for me which with Miss Douglas ‘permission, I will read to you; they throw some light on what Lord Kitchener had done for Egypt, that historic land of our adoption.
“Lord Kitchener’s care and knowledge of the poor in Egypt was remarkable, and they, separated as they are from all white people by religion, language, and point of view, felt him most truly to be their protector. They would go anywhere to see him, and would wait any number of hours to watch him pass. He lived in Cairo, but familiarity made no difference to them. I have seen thousands of people waiting round the stations to see him when he was going or returning from a journey: It was outside the Cairo Station that an attempt was once made on his life. and the police were often nervous lest the German-paid agitators should kill him. But Lord Kitchener never paid the least attention to anyone’s nerves. He was always the man to rode into Khartoum alone at the head of his conquering Army the day after he had defeated the Kalifa.
But it was when lie went into the Provinces that he saw how truly the heart, of Egypt was his. On his last tour before the war, the enthusiastic mob swept him away from his companions and, surrounding him, a compact crowd of peasants, farmers, and notables, walked with him, step by step, people edging up to him, touching his coat, his hand, his walking stick, as if they were sacred, and then making way for others to do the same. The Egyptian countryman knew his friend and showed his love and gratitude in this artless fashion. An Englishman who was there said afterwards: ‘I never saw K. look so pleased.’
“He was always accessible to the people. Old village men would come up all the way from their distant countrysides to tell him of a grumble about land or grievance about water. Often his staff used to be, him to delegate others to do this eternal fatiguing work of interviewing. But he would always see the people himself, and they took his word and judgment as coming straight from Heaven.
“I have seen him worn out (he used to have very bad headaches) evening after evening from doing this apparently trivial work. But it was this mass of effort, this outpouring of sympathy that made him most truly the father of his people in Egypt.
“After his death, and for the only time in the history of the world, Christians, Jews and Mohanimedans met at the same Service to honour his memory.”
And I am sure you feel with me that we shall do well to enshrine in our hearts the remembrance of this wonderful incident that Kitchener of Khartoum was great enough in his life to weld together by his death the warring elements of these diverse religions in one common Service of Worship of the God whom lie worshipped, the God of battles and of all lust and righteous causes.