IT was a hundred years ago on June 5, 1916, when Craven, along with the rest of the country, went into national mourning following the death of Lord Kitchener.

As Secretary of State for War at the outbreak of World War One, he was one of the few to foresee a long war, when others were predicting it would be over in a few short months.

He organised the largest volunteer army that both Britain and the world had ever seen.

His commanding image on recruiting posters demanding 'Your country needs you!' remains one of the most enduring images in popular culture.

But he drowned on June 5, 1916 when HMS Hampshire sank west of the Orkney Islands, Scotland. He was making his way to Russia in order to attend negotiations when the ship struck a German mine and was one of more than 600 on board to lose their lives.

The Craven Herald described the loss as amongst the 'darkest tragedies of the war up to that point and described Lord Kitchener as a national treasure and the nation's 'rock'.

Craven also claimed a local connection - Kitchener had been helped along the path to greatness by Walter Morrison, of Malham Tarn, reported the Craven Herald. Mr Morrison, a supporter and later chairman of the Palestine Exploration Society, was in search of a 'young man of resource and grit' to fill a vacancy on his staff, and went to the headquarters of military engineering where he picked out the young Kitchener.

"How much Mr Morrison's judgement of character has been justified is reflected in the romantic and glorious career of the maker of armies, who has died as he lived, and as he would have wished to die - in the service of his King and Country," gushed the Herald.

"The British Empire mourns the loss of its popular hero, and his devoted staff, and girds up its loins afresh to prosecute this righteous war to the bitter end for the benefit of prosperity and the peace of the civilised world."

The news of the sinking of HMS Hampshire, which came shortly after the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle and the only full scale clash of battleships in the war, permeated quickly across Craven with just about every community holding a service in memory of Lord Kitchener.

Soldiers marched to a service held in Skipton's Holy Trinity Parish Church, flags were flown at half mast, and blinds drawn before and while the service was taking place.

"Never will the British people forget the crowded memories and surging emotions of the first week of June, 1916," reported the Herald in its leader column.

"The nation had scarcely recovered its balance after the alternatives of heart searching sorrow and glowing pride which ensued upon the first intelligence of the great naval battle off Jutland, ere it was plunged into mourning by what has been for us almost the darkest tragedy of the whole war. The news of the sinking of the cruiser Hampshire with all on board came as the profound est shock."

The paper went on to recount how only recently, Lord Kitchener, with his usual 'soldierly directness' had summonsed his critics in the Commons to meet him 'face to face' for a 'square talk'.

"Few people knew of his projected mission to Russia and the tragic news that the great soldier, in whom the nation's trust remained firm in face of every mean, malicious and sordid intrigue, had suddenly been taken from us seemed scarcely possible to credit."

His death was a national loss, which could not be over-emphasised, continued the Herald.

"He was more than an individual. He was a national institution, a firm rock to which the nation clung in its hour of need. A rallying point of national confidence and trust which never failed us in the darkest hour. His inspiration and example remain to point to us our goal."

Villagers in Gargrave learned of the news by telephone the following day. It caused a 'staggering sensation' which left a deeper impression than the sinking of the Lusitania in May, 1915.

A memorial service at Silsden Parish Church was presided over by the Vicar, the Rev EE Peters. Mr Peters gave a short outline of Lord Kitchener's career and spoke of one of the salient characteristics of his personality, his thoroughness. Mr Peters concluded by quoting the Tennyson poem in reference to the death of the Duke of Wellington.

A large congregation attended a service at St Mary's Church, Kelbrook, when the choir wore black scarves across their surplices. A company of 30 soldiers of the 11th Leicesters were there too - and occupied seats specially set aside for them.

In Ingleton, a service at St Mary's Church opened with Tennyson's 'When I have crossed the bar' and the singing of the national anthem, and was attended by a large number of villagers.

In Skipton itself, a large congregation packed into the parish church - despite the service being held on a general holiday. Flags flew at half mast from the town hall and other public buildings, and shopkeepers drew their blinds out of respect for some time before the service, and while it was taking place.

Just before midday, 300 men of the 21st West Yorkshire Regiment, based at Raikes Wood Camp in Skipton, and headed by their band, marched to the church. In what have must have been a very dramatic sight, they were also joined by the local company of the West Riding Volunteers, who were waiting for them outside the town hall, and a troop of boy scouts.

Members of Skipton Urban District council had also assembled at the town hall before walking the short distance to the church.

The service itself was was conducted by the Ven Archdeacon Cook and the Rev A B Million, curate of Skipton Parish Church. The service was impressive in its simplicity, reported the Herald. The West Yorkshire Regiment gave a thoughtful interpretation of the Dead March in Saul, and the congregation left the church to Beethoven's Funeral March.