Horatio Herbert Kitchener -- By: Milton C. Fisher
BSP 2:4 (Autumn 1989) p. 98
Horatio Herbert Kitchener
The military hero who should qualify as the Winston Churchill of World War I, Lord H. H. Kitchener, earlier in his career played a significant role in that geographic survey of Palestine which lald the essential groundwork for subsequent archaeological investigations. Appointed Britain’s Secretary of War in August, 1914, just a week prior to the outbreak of the war, he inspired and directed the recruiting and organizing of an army adequate for what he correctly predicted would be a three year struggle.
The rise in military and civil service of this dedicated bachelor was nothing short of spectacular. But it all began with his training (like Wilson and Warren: see two previous issues) in the engineering corps of the army, coupled with continuing British strategic interests in the Middle East. Born of English Protestant stock in southern Ireland, he was familiar with the Bible. Yet he was no specialized scholar when in 1874, at age 24, he replaced an ailing member of the Palestine Exploration Fund’s mapping survey team under Lt. Claude Conder (whose life Kitchener is credited with saving on two occasions -once from brigands and again from drowning). But by the time he returned to complete the survey in Conder’s stead, in 1877, he had familiarized himself with the writings of early historians and geographers, beginning with Flavius Josephus and Eusehius, as well as the records of pilgrims and travellers throughout the centuries. Once again, therefore, the availability to the Exploration
BSP 2:4 (Autumn 1989) p. 99
Fund of skilled and efficient men from the ranks of the military proved highly satisfactory and productive.
It was on fields of battle and in high office over the years that he would gain renown, but Kitchener also sought opportunity for further exploration in Bible lands. While second-in-command of an Egyptian regiment in Cairo, 1883, he met Professor Edward Hull, who was on his way to a reconnaissance mission in southern Palestine and Sinai. Kitchener received permission to conduct the trigonometrical survey of the Arabah Valley and the Sinai desert, where his fluent command of Arabic and familiarity with Bedouin customs rendered him of additional value.
Valued also at home by Parliament and by the Crown, Kitchener received a large cash grant from the former, in 1899, and awards of peerage (baron, viscount, finally earl) from the latter. He especially cherished his chosen rifle, “Lord Kitchener of Khartoum,” to the end of his life. Exceptional administrative skins earned him a succession of significant and historically strategic posts, including governor of Suakin, Zanzibar, adjutant general in Cairo ...
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