The story of HMS Pheasant
In the early hours of the 1st of March 1917, whilst on regular patrol, HMS Pheasant struck a mine off Rora Head, Hoy, Orkney. All 89 members of the crew lost their lives that day. Only one body was ever recovered, that of Midshipman Reginald Cotter. He is buried in Lyness Naval Cemetery, Hoy.
Although miniscule compared to the millions who died in the slaughter of World War 1, for the men’s families the loss of their loved ones was devastating.
What happened to HMS Pheasant, an M class Destroyer, was virtually forgotten until a maritime survey conducted by Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and SULA Diving located its remains
In the study of history, particularly that which features war, it is far too easy to forget the individual lives of those who are killed and injured. The 89 men who died that day in March 1917 are listed on the Plymouth Naval Memorial but there is no memorial to them in Orkney.
The exhibition telling the story of the HMS Pheasant crewmen will go on show in the Northlight Gallery, Stromness, as part of St Andrews Fair Saturday starting on November 30th 2019. The information will be centred around 8 pull-up display banners. This will allow it to be transported elsewhere in Orkney, and beyond.
The research for the exhibition has been conducted by Fiona Grahame, editor of The Orkney News. It has involved communities and individuals throughout the UK and Ireland and we are indebted to them for their assistance. Stromness Writing Group will produce creative pieces inspired by the story of HMS Pheasant and her crew to feature in the exhibition.
Able Seaman William Porter
A good cause
Fair Saturday exists as an antidote to the consumerist Black Friday, and raises money for charity. Throughout its run the HMS Pheasant 1917 exhibition will be taking donations for Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service, and we include a donation to them as a stretch goal if we reach our exhibition crowd-funder target.
How will your money be used?
- £1632 - production of artwork for use on the displays.
- £1088 - design of eight freestanding exhibition display banners
- £710 - printing of display banners
- £102 - transport costs
- £33 - catering for exhibition opening
- £71 - archival photographic licenses for exhibition display
- +10% contingency for unforeseen costs = £3999 net
- + 3% crowdfunder.co.uk fees = £4118.97 total
- £1000 - donation to Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service
- any additional funds raised will be set aside by The Orkney News Ltd. for use in the production of our documentary film about HMS Pheasant.
A documentary film in the making
This exhibition is the first step towards making a documentary about the lives of the 89 men lost aboard HMS Pheasant, their families, and the communities they came from.
The documentary will be produced by the same team as the award-winning short film "A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm", the animated story of the Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society. It will feature an original music score by Orcadian musician James Watson, narrated by Kim Foden and written by Fiona Grahame. It will be filmed and directed by Orcadian artist Martin Laird.
We are currently exploring funding options for this documentary project, which may or may not involve future crowd-funding.
HMS Pheasant was lost off the coast of Rora Head, Hoy, Orkney, in 1917.