Horatio Herbert Kitchener. First Earl Kitchener of Khartoum. The Hero of Omdurman. Protector of His Majesty’s realm. The very personification of Empire Greatness and a man with a past that would make the strongest stomach turn. Sure, he’d won the Boer War for us. Everyone knew that. But he’d done some pretty unsavoury things in order to get the job done. I don’t know about you, but having ‘Inventor of the Concentration Camp’ on one’s resume, isn’t something I’d be too proud of.

The first time I saw him I almost choked. He was unmistakable – that black handlebar moustache, tight cap and a no-nonsense stare that would melt marble. And it only got worse from there. Let me tell you, being a ‘guest of His Majesty’ when Kitchener’s looking after you, ain’t like staying at Buck Palace.

But I’ll say this for him; he saw things no one else did. From the military aspect, I mean. He watched the battle of the Ark from the bridge of Dreadnought and while Xerxes was too busy worrying and fussing about his own place in history, Kitchener’s hawk blue eyes made sure he could recount it blow by blow afterwards. And he did so, to me.

He just got one detail wrong. Who sunk the Ark. But that wasn’t his fault. He wasn’t inside the dreadful vessel. I was.


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