100 years ago today, 5 June 1916, Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War was killed.
He and his staff were aboard HMS Hampshire travelling to Russia on a diplomatic mission when the ship hit a mine and sunk off the west coast of Orkney.
Kitchener is most famously known for having his face on the great recruitment poster, Your Country Needs You. It continues to be considered a masterful piece of wartime propaganda as well as an enduring and iconic image of the war.
Kitchener promoted the idea of the Pals Battalions, family, friends, colleagues joining up together, training and serving together. Whilst this strategy saw hundreds of thousands men sign up to fight, numbers that were desperately needed to counter the strong German force, ultimately it would prove to be a socially devastating strategy.
On 1st July, these Pals Battalions went into battle for the first time. Many of these battalions were to suffer terribly. A notable example was the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington), East Lancashire Regiment, better known as the Accrington Pals. The Accrington Pals were ordered to attack Serre, the most northerly part of the main assault, on the opening day of the battle. The Accrington Pals were accompanied by Pals battalions drawn from Sheffield, Leeds, Barnsley, and Bradford. Of an estimated 700 Accrington Pals who took part in the attack, 235 were killed and 350 wounded within the space of twenty minutes.
Towns and villages across the UK were left mourning the loss of hundreds of their men from just one day of battle.