Fame in the Family

WS member Richard Grant reports that a letter that has come to light reveals a connection between his Hampshire-based family and Lord Kitchener.

Kitchener may not have been history’s greatest general but he became the face of the world’s most imitated recruiting poster. The poster was designed by Alfred Leete (1882-1933), a Northampton man who lived most of his life in Weston-super-Mare.

Adults and kids sitting on the grass in a garden

In 1888, H.H. Kitchener was 37 and still 10 years away from the campaign that led to his title of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum. He was Governor of the Red Sea Territories – which consisted of little more than the Port of Suakin. On 5th February he wrote a letter to Richard’s great-grandfather Eustace Rooke, who had been the Senior Naval Officer at Suakin. The letter begins, “I am very sorry to hear that you are leaving the station and that I did not see you before leaving to thank you for your always ready and kind co-operation… Your cordial support has really lessened the difficulties which I might have otherwise experienced and has, I feel sure, greatly tended to promote the general good of the service at Suakin.”

Kitchener wrote his letter from the Citadel Hospital in Cairo, concluding “The doctors have been pulling me about but I hope soon to get out of their clutches and to get back to my work.”