Paxman resurrects a Kitchener mystery

The mystery of Kitchener's death from a 1933 article in Pictorial Weekly

‘Was Kitchener’s body found?’ – one of the mysteries surrounding Kitchener’s death from a 1933 article in Pictorial Weekly

Jeremy Paxman has started writing for the Financial Times and kicked off with ‘The strange death of Lord Kitchener‘ in the FT Magazine. The standfirst reads:

The British war secretary’s demise at sea in June 1916 has spawned endless conspiracy theories. A century on, can the speculation be laid to rest?

The article summarises the machinations that have surrounded Kitchener of Khartoum and his death, lost at sea in the sinking of HMS Hampshire in 1916, not long after the cruiser had left Scapa Flow on its way to Russia. Unfortunately, after a few thousand words of well-turned prose, the novelty of the piece rests on the contents of some files Paxman had sought out with a Freedom of Information order. The result: ‘The files are as dull as ditch water.’

As the magazine pages here show, the loss of ‘K of K’ was ‘the greatest mystery of the age’ back in 1933. The Pictorial Weekly article shown here was built around the 1926 claim by a journalist, Frank Power (real name Arthur Vectis Freeman), who claimed he had found the Khartoum hero’s body washed up on the coast of Norway. The incident is a core part of Paxman’s piece too.

Right-hand page of Pictorial Weekly article

Right-hand page of Pictorial Weekly article

Of course, Paxman has been the face of the BBC’s coverage of the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war, and stepped into Kitchener’s shoes in the famous ‘Your Country Needs You’ London Opinion magazine cover and poster for the Radio Times in January.

Jeremy Paxman as Lord Kitchener for the Radio Times

Jeremy Paxman as Lord Kitchener for the Radio Times

 

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