Following the Battle of Jutland on the 31st May – 1st June, the HMS Hampshire journeyed towards Russia in early June 1916 on an order to carry Lord Kitchener from Scapa Flow to Russia. Due to weather conditions, it was decided that the cruiser would sail through the Pentland Firth and along the western coast of the Orkney Islands. The accompanying destroyers were ordered to return to Scapa Flow, and so Hampshire travelled alone towards Russia.
At 7:40pm an explosion occurred as Hampshire hit a mine laid by German U-Boats just before the Battle of Jutland. The lifeboats were broken up as they were lowered into the sea, and fifteen minutes after impact, the Hampshire sank. Of the 655 crewmen and 7 passengers, only 12 survived. Kitchener and his staff were lost.
Aged just nineteen, Richmond man Leslie George Dunn was also lost when HMS Hampshire sunk. He was baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Richmond in 1897 and his parents lived on Sheen Road. By the census of 1911, Leslie was living at Worple Way with his mother and her second husband, George William Adams. In July 1912, Leslie was signed on as a ‘Boy I’ on HMS Impregnable, a naval training establishment. He found himself going on to HMS Hampshire in January 1914, and over the years, Leslie was promoted to Ordinary Seaman and Telegraphist. His name appears on the Scapa Flow memorial, on the Portsmouth Naval memorial and on the war memorial at St John the Divine in Richmond.
Lord Kitchener was one of the few who imagined that the war would go on for at least three years. Many believed that war would be ‘over by Christmas’. On his second day in office, Kitchener declared that ‘we must be prepared to put armies of millions in the field, and to maintain them for several years’. He quickly set about recruiting new soldiers, and his image is easily recognisable from recruiting posters demanding: “Your country needs you!” By the end of the year almost 2.5 million men had joined up – the largest volunteer army ever raised.