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Harry Kidwell

Rank: Lance Corporal

Lifetime: 1895-1916

Reference: 10151

Lance Corporal Harry Kidwell (10151) of the third Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment died on 9 July 1916 aged 20 years. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Harry Kidwell’s Burnt Service records are held at the National Archives (having suffered some damage in an air raid during the Second World War). From them we learn that Harry enlisted in the Army Reserve of the East Surrey Regiment on 26th March 1912(?13) at the age of 17 years and 5 months. He had been born in Kingston where he was employed as a carman. Although passed as fit for service, he appears to have been a fairly puny fellow: weighing 112 lbs; only 5’ 3¼” tall and with a 32½” chest. He had grey eyes and auburn hair and had a distinctive brown patch over his left shoulder.

Having been accepted into the Reserves, he then applied to join the Regular Army on 9 December 1913. At this time the standing army was tiny and references as to an applicant’s good character were required before a recruit could be accepted. One of his referees, J Kidwell (clearly a relative) of 11 Hudsons Rd, Kingston, described him as sober and honest and “a willing lad” and said he was self-employed. His father, William Kidwell, of 3 Mill Street, Kingston, described as a “Dealer”, was another referee.

After joining the Regular Army, he trained at the Depot of The “Prince of Wales Volunteers” South Lancashire Regiment where following two months’ service, his Company Commander described him as “a very good recruit, very clean & smart, wants promotion”. He duly received his promotion to Lance Corporal on 4 August 1914 at the outbreak of war. According to his obituary in The Surrey Comet dated 30 December 1916, he was sent to France in February 1915. Originally posted “missing” when killed in action on 8 July 1916 (the same day as Private Henry Pellett-another Hampton Wick casualty of the Somme commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial), his death was only formally confirmed in November 1916 and even then The Surrey Comet managed to get his parents’ address wrong necessitating a correction notice in the following edition..

His service record ends on 19 October 1921 with a receipt for his medals duly signed by his father, William Kidwell, whose address is given as 63 High Street, Hampton Wick. His father is listed in the 1926 Kelly’s Directory as running a Fishmonger’s shop at that address. His sister, Ada Kidwell (14) appears in the court pages of The Surrey Comet dated 9 October 1918. She was charged with stealing a cheque worth 2d and attempting to defraud her employer of £5.

The first phase of this Project is to gather information about the men commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial who fought in the Great War, also known as World War I, WWI or the First World War.

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