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  • Kitchener’s Sword June 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback

    Beach has previously celebrated the (entirely unrealistic) myths about Kitchener’s survival from a shipwreck in June 1916. There were a number of theories: namely that the Germans had got him; that Kitchener had been kidnapped in Russia or was secretly helping the Russian army reorganise (perhaps he was killed in the revolution?); or some version of the idea that the British themselves had him, though why the British government would do away with one of their most exceptional public servants is not explained. There is, though, another story that claims that Kitchener had been spiritually carried away and was waiting on a strand or in a cave, like King Arthur, to lead Britain to final victory. Beach has often read about this at second hand but today he ran across this story which is the closest he has ever come to a first-hand account. The news story is dated 1 Jan 1918 (Pall Mall Ga), the beginning of the last year of the war. A bad time.

    The other day, at a dinner party in the North, a lady declared she had positive proof that Lord Kitchener was alive, the proof being that the sword Lord Kitchener took with him on board the Hampshire was now in the Tower of London, being kept for him. A letter was at once written by one of the guests to an officer stationed at the Tower to ask if this was true. The answer came that there was certainly a sword of Lord Kitchener’s in the Tower, in a glass case, together with Lord Wolseley’s sword and Lord Roberts’s revolver. But on further inquiry it turned out that the sword was an old Royal Engineer sword worn by Lord Kitchener in his younger days, and not a Field-Marshal’s sword, which would be the only one he would have had on the Hampshire.

    The Tower of London has a special place in British consciousness: this is the closest the tales of 1916, 1917 and 1918 come to Arthurian myth. Perhaps the claim that people were waiting for Kitchener to return again like Arthur was actually just a scholarly gloss on a fairy bizarre series of legends? drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com