Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener

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Field Marshal The Rt. Hon. Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916), was a British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War.

Kitchener won fame in 1898 for winning the Battle of Omdurman and securing control of the Sudan, after which he was given the title "Lord Kitchener of Khartoum"; as Chief of Staff (1900–02) in the Second Boer War he played a key role in Lord Roberts' conquest of the Boer Republics, then succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief – by which time Boer forces had taken to guerrilla fighting and British forces imprisoned Boer civilians in concentration camps. His term as Commander-in-Chief (1902–09) of the Army in India saw him quarrel with another eminent proconsul, the Viceroy Lord Curzon, who eventually resigned. Kitchener then returned to Egypt as British Agent and Consul-General (de facto Viceroy).

In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Lord Kitchener became Secretary of State for War, a Cabinet Minister. One of the few men to foresee a long war, one in which Britain's victory was far from secure, he organized the largest volunteer army that the UK had seen and a significant expansion of materiels production to fight Germany on the Western Front. His commanding image, appearing on recruiting posters demanding "Your country needs you!", remains recognised and parodied in popular culture to this day. He was blamed for the shortage of shells in the spring of 1915 – one of the events leading to the formation of a coalition government – and stripped of his control over munitions and strategy.

He died in 1916 near the Orkney Islands when the warship taking him to negotiations in Russia was sunk by a German mine.

After his death Kitchener was often dismissed as a great poster but not a great administrator. He was criticised by Lloyd George - who may have taken credit for some of Kitchener's achievements in the field of munitions - in his War Memoirs and by others. After many years' experience of commanding relatively small forces in imperial campaigns, Kitchener had made his reputation worse by his habit of secrecy, unwillingness to explain his actions to his colleagues, and reluctance to organise and delegate.

However, since 1970, new records have opened and historians have to some extent rehabilitated Kitchener's reputation. His strategic vision in the World War is now praised, especially his laying the groundwork for the expansion of munitions production and his central role in the raising of the British army in 1914 and 1915, which provided an army capable of meeting Britain's continental commitment.[1]

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