Rifleman Arthur George Kitcherside

Date of Birth c. 1897
Age at Death 17
Date of Death 31 October 1914
Service Number 11374
Military Service 2 Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Merton Address 24 Tennyson Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial Wimbledon Parish Church

Additional Information

Born in Wimbledon in 1897, Arthur was baptised on 1 March at Holy Trinity Church, Wimbledon. He was the youngest child of Thomas and Minnie Kitcherside. The couple also had three older sons, Alfred, William and Percy, plus a younger son, Tom. Two other offspring died in infancy.

In 1901 the family was living at 27 Milton Road, Wimbledon and Thomas was a sewer connection labourer. Arthur’s older brother, Alfred was also working as a coal porter, possibly for a local firm, or on the railway. By 1911, the census reveals that Arthur’s father was a labourer for Wimbledon Borough Council. 18 year old William and 16 year old Percy were employed by local firm Pascton Ltd as a labourer and shop boy respectively. Arthur, now 14, was also a shop boy for J. West Ltd.

Following the outbreak of war, Arthur volunteered for the army. At 17, he was too young for enlistment but may have lied about his age. He became a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps. After initial training the battalion was posted to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force, landing at Le Havre on 13 August 1914. The men were then sent to the Western Front.

The 2nd Battalion fought bravely in various offensives known collectively as the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November 1914). This included the Battle of Gheluvelt (28 – 31 October), a detailed account of which survives in the war diary entry of the Worcestershire Regiment.

Daybreak of October 31st 1914 was calm and clear... For several hours the companies lay about their billets listening to the ever-increasing bombardment and watching the German shrapnel bursting in black puffs of smoke above the tree tops.

The 2nd Worcestershires were almost the last available reserve of the British defence. Nearly every other unit had been drawn into the battle line or had been broken beyond recovery… Ten days of battle had left all ranks haggard, unshaven and unwashed - their uniforms had been soaked in the mud of the Langemarck trenches and been torn by the brambles of Polygon Wood. Many had lost their puttees or their caps, but their weapons were clean and in good order, they had plenty of ammunition and three months of war had given them confidence in their fighting power. .. Hour by hour the thunder of the guns grew more intense. Stragglers and wounded from beyond the wood brought news that a great German attack was in progress. The enemy's infantry were coming on in overwhelming numbers against the remnants of the five British battalions, mustering barely a thousand men, which were holding the trenches about the Menin Road. ..Before midday, weight of numbers had told. The Queen's and the Royal Scots Fusiliers had fought to the last, the Welch and the KRRC had been overwhelmed, and the right flank of the South Wales Borderers had been rolled back. Gheluvelt had been lost and a great gap had been broken in the British line...

The Kings Royal Rifle Corps lost 8 officers killed or wounded plus 400 other ranks on 31 October 1914. Arthur Kitcherside was amongst the casualties -still just 17 years of age. His name appears on the Menin Gate in Ypres and he is also commemorated with a monumental inscription at Wimbledon Parish Church. His brother William who also fought in the war, was discharged in 1916 being no longer physically able to fight.


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