John Frederick Raymond KITCHIN (1898–1918)
John Frederick Raymond Kitchin was born in Harrogate in 1898, the second son of Clifford Kitchin (born in Manchester in 1859/60) and Sarah Ellen Benn (born at Clayton in Yorkshire in 1870/1). His parents were married in the Knaresborough registration district in the third quarter of 1894, and they had two children:
- Clifford Henry Benn Kitchin (born in Harrogate on 17 October 1895)
- John Frederick Raymond Kitchin (born in Harrogate in 1898, registered last quarter).
John’s father was a barrister, and at the time of the 1901 census when John was aged two the family was living at 9 Crooklets, Bude with three servants (a nurse and two general servants).
By 1911 the family had moved to Bristol, and were living at Cabot House in Clifton Down Road with tress servants (a cook, parlourmaid, and housemaid). John was then 11 years old. He was educated at two preparatory schools in the Bristol area (Clifton College and Braidlea Preparatory School at Stoke Bishop), and was then educated privately.
John’s father died in Bristol at the age of 53 near the beginning of 1913, and his widowed mother Sarah Ellen Kitchin moved to Holmwood on Boars Hill in about 1915.
John’s older brother Clifford joined the army in September 1915 just after completing his degree at Exeter College, Oxford, and served as a Lieutenant in the 8th Royal Warwickshire Regiment. John himself had also intended to apply to the University of Oxford, but instead went to serve in the war in 1916.
Left: Holmwood in 2011 (now a children’s nursery)
In the First World War John Frederick Raymond Kitchin was given a Commission at the end of 1916 (as soon as he was 18) as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service (at that time the air arm of the Royal Navy). From September 1917 he was employed on active service at stations in England. He was accidentally killed on 21 June 1918 when starting out on a patrol from Bishopstone Seaplane Station and the seaplane he was piloting struck Newhaven breakwater. Peter Fellows described the accident as follows in From A Short History of a local Seaplane Station:
The following day there was a fresh south westerly wind blowing, which meant taking off in the lee of the harbour wall. Lt Kitchin twice tried to unstick from the water, but each time had to abort as the harbour wall came perilously close. By the third attempt all the pilots and observers on shore watched anxiously as he eventually got off the water, but far too close to the wall. Kitchin had barely enough flying speed and the Short 184 did not rise. The crew had no chance and must have known that a crash was inevitable. They both died.
Kitchin is buried at Newhaven Cemetery (Grave S. 34), and his co-pilot, 2nd Lieutenant George Cole (26) is buried beside him with a matching grave marker. The inscription on Kitchin's grave (shown below) reads:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF /
LIEUTENANT JOHN FREDERICK /
R.N.A.S. AND R.A.F.
KILLED WHILE FLYING IN NEWHAVEN HARBOUR / ON JUNE 21ST 1918 / AGED 19 YEARS
REQUIEM ÆTERNAM DONA EIS DOMINE /
ET LUX PERPETUA LUCEAT EIS.
[Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them]
He is also remembered on the war memorial in St Leonard’s Church at Sunningwell, and on the Youlbury memorial (right).
Administration was granted to Kitchin’s mother on 5 December 1918, and his effects came to £324 7s. 9d.
John Frederick Raymond Kitchin’s mother
- Sarah Ellen Kitchin (Mrs Clifford Kitchin) was still living at Holmwood on Foxcombe Hill in 1928.
- Clifford Henry Benn Kitchin, who had been an undergraduate at Exeter College Oxford, became a barrister and author. He never married, and died on 4 April 1967.
- CWGC: Kitchin, J. F. R.
- Kitchin’s obituary in The Times of 26 June 1918
- Great War Forum: Discussion of Kitchin’s accident
- National Archives: Material on Kitchin
- Newhaven Cemetery: Includes information on Kitchin’s and Cole’s graves
- Wikipedia: Royal Naval Air Service
- Wikipedia: Biography of John’s brother, Clifford Henry Benn Kitchin