Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

Private Tom Kitchen

Gunter, R B N
Durrant, C M
Weston, C G
Kelly, K G
Armitage, G J
Durrant, H M L
Hargreaves, J P
March, G
Dukes, W
Fowler, R
Westerman, H
Kirk, J C
Wiggins, T A
Telford, G
Harper, J W
Alexander, H W
Mason, T F
Wilkinson, W
Brown, C
Adkin, J
Barton, F
Hobman, A
Webster, A E
March, E A
Miller, G
Hannan, E
Utley, G
Walker, F
Bygrave, E W
Chapman, E
Varley, N W
Bowen, F J
Byrom, F
Backhouse, S
Dalby, M
Crossland, A
Crossley, J S
Dean, R
Frost, A E
Hodgson, F H
Holt, J
Hood, W H
Hill, W
Kitchen, T
Linfoot, E
Metcalfe, J C
Marsden, J
Pawson, W
Precious, G
Scutt, T G
Wiggins, J
Walker, E
Wood, A
Young, T
Pratt, W
Taylor, H
Dawson, G W
Lister, J
Binge, T
Atack, G
Durham, E F
Precious, G R
Wheelhouse Smith, W
Backhouse, H
Swann, J W
Burnsides, G A
Coles, W
Kelly, H W
Miles, J G
Tapsell, K

15th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment ("Leeds Pals")
Died, 3rd May, 1917

Cemetery : Arras Memorial, Boulevard du General de Gaulle, Arras, France
Grave Reference or Panel Number : Bay 4, I.H.14

Son of William and Hannah Bella (Annabella) Kitchen of Wentworth Terrace, West End, Wetherby.
The Early Years
Tom was born at Wetherby on the 27th of May 1897 to parents, a Farm Labourer, and Hannah Bella Kitchen (nee Utley). Baptised at Saint James Parish Church on the 16th of June of that year, Tom was the second child born to the Kitchen/Utley family.
At the recording of the 1901 Census, William now described his occupation as that of a Horseman/Market Gardener, the family now comprising of three children, Bessie, aged 7 years, Tom aged 3 years, and Fred, recorded as being just 6 weeks old. (Authors note: Bessie was in fact one Bessie Utley, born in 1893 and baptised at Saint James. The father however is not recorded).
The 1911 Census now records the Kitchen family as residing at Number 8, Wentworth Terrace, a further child, Maurice, having been born in November 1903 and baptised as a Primitive Methodist. Aged 14 years, Tom and his two siblings, Fred and Maurice respectively, are recorded at this juncture as being at school, of Bessie, she is recorded as residing with her Aunt at Oxenhope, near Keighley and employed as Worsted Spinner.
Attestation & Enlistment
It is surmised that Tom was deemed to have enlisted at York in May 1916 however his actual attestation for military service may suggest on or about the 10th of December 1915 at Wetherby. Attesting under the Derby or Group Scheme, i.e. voluntary enlistment, after undergoing a rudimentary medical examination performed by Dr. James Arthur Hargreaves, the presiding Medical Officer, Physician and Surgeon of Wetherby, Tom was then placed on the Army Reserve and issued an Armlet to denote that he had enlisted.  Mobilised and posted to the Regimental Depot located at York, he was then posted to a Reserve Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment and issued the serial number 29193. The terms of his enlistment were that of Short Service (For the Duration of the War, with the Colours and in the Army Reserve). It is of interest to note that amongst those attesting for service in this number sequence, there was one William Nettleton, aged 18 years and 6 months. A resident of Barleyfields Laundry, Wetherby, William would be allocated the serial number 29195. Shortly after his mobilisation however, he would be posted to the ranks of the 2/4th Lincolns and serve with various battalions of the Regiment until being captured and made a Prisoner of War whilst serving with the 1st Battalion in September 1918.
Posted To The Western Front
After a period of training in all military disciplines, Tom was despatched to France and would be initially posted to one of the many Infantry Base Depots (I.B.D's) where he would be processed and receive yet further training in all aspects of warfare. One may surmise that this initial service was conducted at the 33rd Infantry Base Depot located at Etaples, near Boulogne, before he joined his allocated battalion "in the field."
Posted to the 15th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds "Pals"), it is difficult to ascertain the date of his actual posting to the battalion with some degree of accuracy however it is certain that Tom was contained in a draft of 394 men that were received by the 15th West Yorkshire's in October 1916. Drafts recorded during the month in question in the Battalion War Diary are as follows:-
2nd October   Two Drafts Numbering 114 & 56 men
14th October   76 men
17th October   58 men
18th October   52 men
20th October   38 men
Either joining the battalion whilst they were in the Givenchy Sector east of Bethune or on the 31st Divisions return to the Somme, Tom was subsequently posted to "C" Company. (Source: Cox & Co 1919. First published for private circulation by the aforementioned, this edition being published in 1988 by the London Stamp Exchange Ltd., in association with Toad Hall Medals, 5 Buckingham Street, London WC2).
15th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment:- A Brief Service History
The battalion was formed at Leeds in September 1914 as a direct consequence of Lord Kitchener's "First Call To Arms," an appeal for 100,000 men between the ages of 19 and 35 years to enlist under a service obligation of SHORT SERVICE (Three years with the Colours). With the first contingent of roughly 1200 men being raised by the 16th of September (Source: Yorkshire Evening Post dated the 16th of September 1914), the battalion would be placed under the command Lieutenant-Colonel John Walter Stead, a former Solicitor and Commanding Officer of the Leeds Rifles. (Authors note: Exact figures as to the strength of the battalion as of the 16th of September 1914 are not known however number 15/1200 was issued on the 25th of January 1915 to one Henry Roland Jones).
Much has been written about the "Pals" and there is I believe no better publication than Milner's History for those wishing to explore the history of the battalion in greater detail. I will now therefore just provide a brief record of the movements of the battalion before Tom joined the "Pals" in October 1916. After training at Colsterdale near Masham, North Yorkshire, during the autumn and winter of 1914, the battalion moved to Ripon in May 1915 to join the constituent units of the 31st Division. Contained in the 93rd Infantry Brigade, the latter comprised of the following units:-
15th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds "Pals")
16th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (1st Bradford "Pals")
18th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (2nd Bradford "Pals")
18th (Service) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (Durham "Pals")
Divisional Commander   Temporary Major-General Robert Wanless O'Gowan C.B. (24th August 1915)
Now under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Campbell Taylor, the 15th West Yorkshire's, in division, moved to Salisbury Plain in September and into camp at Fovant. Further training was carried out including musketry, the use of trench mortars, and instructions in the art of trench warfare. Sport was also an integral part of camp life, a large cross country race being run in November in which the Leeds "Pals" triumphed and took all the prizes.
Rumours quickly circulated that the 31st Division were bound for France in the New Year, officers of the 92nd Brigade even collecting up all varieties of trench equipment such as waders, boots and trench coats. On returning to Hurdcott Camp, one soldier of the East Yorkshire Regiment heard that the move to France "was off" and men were ordered to immediately indent for 'Pith' helmets. As rumours continued, orders were eventually issued for the men to prepare to move, not to France, but to Egypt.
Egypt:- Suez Canal Defences
Proceeded by an Advance Party, the main body of the Leeds "Pals" departed for Egypt onboard the HMT "Empress of Britain." Embarking at Liverpool, the ship sailed from the port on the 7th of December 1915, the remaining units of the 93rd Infantry Brigade accompanied by the Divisional Pioneers also being onboard. Of local interest, one of the "Pals" was Private James Atack, 15/1080, a resident of Newton Kyme and a Postman by occupation. James had enlisted at Wetherby in December 1914 and a Battalion Signaller serving in "A" Company, Number 4 Platoon, Section Number 13. After an eventful voyage resulting in a collision with another ship, the 93rd Brigade arrived at Port Said on the morning of the 21st of December 1915. Disembarking early on the following morning, they then established camp until a move was made later in the month to take up positions along the Suez Canal, Battalion Headquarters being established at Kantara. Private James Victor Payne, 15/1355, a resident of Headingley and formerly an Assistant Scoutmaster of the St. Michaels Troop wrote about his surroundings. A member "C" Company, Number 11 Platoon he commented on the landscape and some of his duties:-
"Where we are now there are no green hills and rippling brooks to remind us of scouting at home, but sand, marshes and black river mud. The land is nearly as flat as a pancake, but not quite as interesting, as a pancake would be very acceptable out here. I had a job the other day that took me to a look-out place. I could see about 20 or 25 miles of the lines we are guarding, as I had a pair of powerful binoculars. My job was to keep a good look-out and report anything unusual. To break the monotony of our work we get a turn on patrol, at a look-out station, or as a boatman".
The food, as James alluded to, was, to say the least, poor. Bully Beef, biscuits, bread and Army rations so parcels sent from home were therefore most welcome, the aforementioned to be addressed to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force via the G.P.O. in London. Extras such as bread, chocolates, figs and oranges could be purchased from an Arab Canteen, but the prices, particularly for soap, were expensive, and were to prove even more so once they had moved further away from any sizeable place of habitation. Once established at their 'new' camp located some distance to the east of Kantara, the men started to construct dug-outs and trenches in what was termed the Northern Section, under the command of 15th Corps. This area stretching from Kantara in the south to Port Said in the north, was to be guarded by three divisions, the 11th, the 13th and the 31st Divisions respectively. Should the Turks make a push for the Suez Canal, this whole area was to be ready to meet an advancing force who would have to cross the Sinai Desert. Due to the evacuation of the Dardanelles, yet more Turkish forces were now available to push towards the Canal. The threat was real and forces were massing therefore vigilance was of the essence should they make another attempt as they had previously in February 1915.           
HMT Empress Of Britain
Courtesy Of BirtwistleWiki

The days spent in the desert were blazing hot, whilst at night the temperature dropped dramatically. Although it did rain on more than one occasion, the supply and storage of water was an endless problem. Water had to be brough forward by Camel as did all other supplies, the water itself being stored in large tanks, sandbagged to minimise evaporation. Lance-Corporal Charles Moss, 18/544, of the Durham Light Infantry remarked in a letter home about the water allowance:-
"You need not send anymore soap. We only get two pints of water per day now for a tent of ten men to wash in, and so you may judge what it is like when it comes to the turn of the last man. This allowance will probably be reduced later".
Passing ships also helped to supplement the men's rations with some luxuries. In one instance, a ship carrying the Stage Act, "Terry and Lambert" (Mr. John Terry and Miss Mabel Lambert), frequent performers in Yorkshire, came into contact with the Leeds and Bradford "Pals" when their ship moored in the Suez Canal. A boat was launched from a camp on the shore whereupon the passengers loaded it with sweets, books, chocolates and drink. A young officer then introduced himself and asked, " Do you know Johnnie Whiteman"? (Authors note:- The Director of Leeds City Football Club) to which they replied that they did. This young officer was pleased that they did and he remarked, "Tell him his pal Lintott asked of him, and sends his best wishes". As a band struck up the tune "Keep The Home Fires Burning," Temporary Lieutenant Evelyn Henry Lintott returned to the "Pals" camp and to the men of "A" Company laden with his gifts.   

Conveying Water Tanks
Source:- Illustrated History (Authors Collection)

The above photograph taken from the Illustrated History clearly depicts the logistics of transporting the water required for daily consumption. No doubt overseeing the operation is Sergeant William Hope Macauley, 15/608, (Provost Sergeant), "D" Company, Number 16 Platoon, Section Number 13, the soldier to his right being one Private John Williamson Turkington, 15/914, "A" Company, Number 1 Platoon, Section Number 1. Private Turkington was also the Servant to Lieutenant Lintott).
Commemoration Under Construction