Wilfred Kitchen, Private 31526, 11th Bn. East Lancashire Regiment
Killed in action 28th June 1918 in France, aged 19
Son of William and Annie Kitchen, of 18, Barracks Lane, Buxton Rd., Macclesfield. Student at the Art School, Macclesfield. Awarded the Owen Jones Bronze Medal for Silk Designs, 1917.
Wilfred enlisted on 21 May 1917 and was drafted out to France on Easter Sunday the following year. He was killed in action two months later on 28 June 1918, and his death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 12 July:
Mr and Mrs W Kitchen, 18 Barracks Lane, Macclesfield, have received news of the death in action of their only son, Pte Wilfred Kitchen, East Lancs Regt. Nineteen years of age, Pte Kitchen enlisted on May 21st 1917 and was drafted out to France on Easter Sunday this year. He frequently corresponded with his parents, and the tone of each letter showed wonderful spirit. His last communication was written the day before he was killed.
Pte Kitchen was well-known in the town and beloved and respected by all his comrades. He was educated at Daybrook Street School, and was a member of St George’s Church Choir up to the time of enlistment. His father is the organist at Hurdsfield Church, and the grocery manager of the Sunderland Street branch of the Macclesfield Equitable Provident Society. Mr Kitchen has received a sympathetic letter from the Chaplain, who states that Pte Kitchen was a regular attendant at Holy Communion and partook of the sacrament the day before he entered the battle in which he lost his life.
In civil life Pte Kitchen was in the employ of Mr T H Hambleton, J.P., as a designer. He was a diligent student at the Macclesfield School of Art and was successful in winning the bronze medal and book prize in the Owen Jones competition of last year. Mr T Cartwright (headmaster), in handing over the prizes to Mr Kitchen on his son’s behalf, informed him that this was the blue ribbon of the profession. By the death of Pte Kitchen a very promising career has been cut short and much sympathy will be extended to the parents in their bereavement.
Private Wilfred Kitchen is buried at the Aval Wood Military Cemetery, France, in grave ref. I. A. 3. His father paid for the inscription “CALLED TO HIGHER SERVICE” to be added to his headstone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Wilfred Kitchen, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private Wilfred Kitchen is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church and St George’s Church war memorials, and on the Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church roll of honour.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21 September 1921 included two with the words
“To the glorious dead – In memory of W. Kitchen, J. Parrott, and W. Oldfield, from Messrs. T. H. Hambleton, Ltd.”
“Walter Hodkinson and Wilfred Kitchen – Remembrance from an old pal, A. Willott.”