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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Captain John Buchanan Kitchin

Valerie corby

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If anyone knows of or who is related to the above? I have a hand written 'condolence' letter signed by him addressed to my relative's mother dated October 1916. Unfortunately Captain Kitchin was also killed in May 1917. I know his regiment was the Buffs East Kent Regiment (as indeed was my relative). The Captain lies in the Duisans British Cemetery Etrun (III K.12.) which we are going to visit to pay our respects. My relative is commemorated on the Thievpal memorial - army records reveal the Captain's parents were Alexander and Jessie Kitchin of Brooke Street, Tonbridge. He died only 21 so he may have been too young to have children but may have had siblings.

The descendants of the Captain might like a copy of the letter?

Thank you


In memory of William Jack Corby and John Buchanan Kitchen both of the Buffs East Kent Regiment

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Hi Valerie

John Buchanan Kitchin (b.1896)1901 census had 3 sisters Catherine Mary 1895, Jessie Marguerite 1892, Buckanan, 1890 all born Tonbridge. Father was from Scotland mthr from Cheshire. Will look on Ancestry Public trees, you never know!

Regards Barry

Jessie M Kitchin married Walter A Stewart @ Tonbridge, Kent 1st qtr 1920........?

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He has a service file at Kew Archives under WO339/38106,which was begun when he was a Lieutenant.


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Hi all

Isobel A.B. Stewart born Brixworth, Northants 2nd qtr 1922 (3b,179) mother's maiden name... Kitchin, keeping looking...


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Hi Barry and 'Sotonmate'.

Your interest, assistance and knowledge to assist my search is very much appreciated. Thank you very much. I guess that one or all of his sisters married and have children and grandchildren. Now that you have given me a head start I will keep searching.... Captain Kitchin in his letter said some nice things about my relative.

The archives at Kew are my first stop.



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  • 4 years later...
Guest mtfhayes

Hi I have only just seem this forum and realise its a few years since you posted it. My father in law is the nephew of Captain John Buchanan Kitchen. His mother is Annie Orr Buchanan Kitchen she was the sister of Captain Buchanan Kitchen. His name is Donald Hayes and I know he would love to see the letter.

Its sad as his own brother was killed on the second of May 1945 in Berlin. Two generations of the same family killed.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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  • 5 months later...

For mtfhayes

I have only just come across this - I am currently researching the men on the Tonbridge War Memorial, one of whom is John Buchanan Kitchin. You might find this of interest:

Extract from the Tonbridge Free Press 11th May 1917


Captain J. B. Kitchin Killed in Action

Captain John Buchanan Kitchin, whose death in action is officially confirmed, was the only son of Mr and Mrs H Kitchin, of Burnbrae, Tonbridge, and attached to the 6th Buffs, and his bereaved parents have received many letters of sympathy, not only from local residents, but from Army chaplains at the front. He was a splendid specimen of manhood, and a promising as well as popular officer, whose death at the early age of 21 years is much to be regretted.

The deceased officer was educated at Yardley Court School, Tonbridge, and Bethany House, Goudhurst, and commenced a commercial career with Messrs Noakes Ltd., Tunbridge Wells, remaining with the firm until the outbreak of the war.

During the month of September 1914, he volunteered for service, and joined the Pal’s Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment in Kitchener’s Army. He quickly gained the stripes of a non-commissioned officer, and shortly afterwards was recommended for a commission. Successfully passing the qualifying examinations, he was gazetted and attached to the 6th Buffs, proceeding to France at the end of May 1916. he saw a lot of fighting, and took a prominent part in the Battle of the Somme, on several occasions narrowly escaping injury. In January of the present year he was promoted to full Lieutenant, and on April 30th, at the early age of twenty-one years, received the rank of Captain.

Unfortunately he was wounded in action on the 1st inst., but after having his wound dressed he left the casualty clearing station, resumed the command of his company, and two days later led it into action again. He was wounded in the leg early in the fight, but pluckily continued to lead his men until he received another and mortal wound to which he succumbed.

Among the many sympathetic letters received by Mr and Mrs Kitchin is one from Captain Noel Christopherson, chaplain, attached to the 6th Buffs, and one from Captain W. H. Leatham, chaplain to the 1st Gordons, both of whom describe the late Captain Kitchin as a brave and able officer.

An Appreciation by Rev. T. R. McNab

None have borne more worthily than Capt. Kitchin the proud designation of “an officer and a gentleman.” For thirteen years the writer of this appreciation has known the brave young man whose death from wounds received in action, has cast a shadow over the life of Tonbridge. Permitted the privilege of intimacy with the family of which “Jack Kitchin,” as he was known to his intimates, was a member he has watched with keen delight the development of a chivalrous boy into a gallant officer who has just laid down his life for his country. In the home circle, or with his school fellows, when many of the restraints, ordinarily observed, are relaxed, Jack displayed those gentlemanly qualities and that unselfish thoughtfulness for others which will always be associated with his memory.

He was educated at Yardley Court School, Tonbridge, and Bethany House, Goudhurst. One of the principals of the latter school once told the writer that he was the most popular boy in the school, and predicted for him a successful future.

On completing his education he embarked on a commercial career, but on the outbreak of the war he did what all his friends knew he could not help doing – he joined Kitchener’s Army as a private. Within a fortnight the fresh recruit was made a lance-corporal, and before he had served many weeks in the ranks he was recommended by his colonel for a commission. This he received in April 1915, being attached to the Buffs, and soon proved himself an efficient and popular officer. On May 31st 1916 Mr Kitchin crossed over to France, and from that time onward saw a great deal of fighting, on several occasions narrowly escaping injury. Six months later, while still a subaltern, he was given the post of temporary captain with command of his company, which was doing trench duty. In January of the present year, he was promoted to full lieutenant, and on April 30th, shortly after attaining his twenty-first birthday, received the rank of captain. All who knew him were confident that he would acquit himself worthily of this new responsibility.

The disquieting news that Captain Kitchin had been wounded on May 1st, but remained on duty, reached Tonbridge on Sunday last. After having his wound dressed he resumed command of his company, and two days later led it into action. Early in the fight he received a wound in the leg, but continued to direct his men until he received another and mortal wound from which he died on Saturday. But a few days before the battle began he wrote words which are reminiscent of the famous signal of Britain’s greatest naval commander: “I pray and hope that I may at all times do my duty, and this I am determined to do.”

It is difficult to speak with restraint of this chivalrous young officer. Those best acquainted with him will recognise that this appreciation under states rather than over estimates his fine qualities of character.

A splendid specimen of physical manhood, tall, well-built, of handsome appearance; he was as good as he was big. Modest, courteous to his humblest acquaintance, loyal to all his friends, ever eager to help others, thoughtful for all but himself; he was everything that a true father would like his sons to be.

How proud of hi his friends were, and never was pride more justifiable. In one of Ralph Connor’s books there is a fine character, Angus Macdonald, who lived in the vast forests and by the great rivers of the North-West. He listens for the first time to the Hallelujah Chorus, and when asked his opinion of it, replied, “It makes me think of all the great things I have ever seen – the great mountains, the tall pine trees and the broad rivers.”

As we look back on the brief career of Capt. Kitchin, we are impressed by the generous scale on which he was built. We are reminded of the great things we have seen – the great ideals and achievements and people – and some other things we do not mention, except with bated breath. His personality was cast in a big mould and he was incapable of anything petty or mean.

His passing was in keeping with all his previous life. It was in perfect accord with the unselfish sprit he always manifested. He lived not for himself. He died for the honour, freedom and good faith of his country, and his country offers this tribute that he would value most highly, viz., that he has done his duty.

What can we say of the nation which has such sons ready to die for her. She cannot die. She cannot go down in the struggle, and when victory is achieved not a few will value, for the sake of those who purchased it, the freedom which has been won, and will try to pass on untarnished the fresh traditions that have been made, and made imperishable, by men of stainless honour like J. B. Kitchin.


Dave Swarbrick

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  • 3 months later...
  • 6 months later...

To Dave Swarbrick, only just seen this. So interesting. Thanks so much.

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