Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Much of the extended Kitchingham family come from the area in Kent around Gravesend to Chatham, close to the River Thames. Perhaps it was this proximity to water that encouraged William Kitchingham to move to Portsea Island in the 1860s, but equally it could have had something to do with the navy. Whatever it was it certainly wasn't his trade as he is listed as a carter or agricultural labourer in all the censuses.
In 1871 he appears in the census living with Frances Coffin and her two sons, William and Henry, at 2 Basin Street. By 1881 William and Frances had married and had two children of their own whilst William had adopted the two older boys. Interestingly they had moved to 3 Great Salterns, an area on the east side of Portsea Island considered to be a separate civil parish or Rural Sanctuary District.
The younger William Kitchingham, was aged 22 in 1891, had enlisted as a Private, possibly in the Royal Artillery, and was based at Cambridge Barracks in Portsmouth. Ten years later, though still a private in the Hampshire Regiment, he had moved with his wife Annie to 48 Newcombe Road where they began to raise a family, William (b. 1895) and Thomas (b. 1896). Soon thereafter he was pensioned by the army and found work as the Office Keeper at the Army Headquarters in High Street, formerly the residence of the Governor of Portsmouth (see the Old Portsmouth Project). And not only was William working at one of the most prestigious buildings in Portsmouth, the whole family, according to the 1911 census, were actually living there.
Soon after the 1911 census Thomas Kitchingham joined the Royal Marines Light Infantry as a private. In January 1915, Thomas was aboard HMS Viknor, a 5386 Ton Blue Star Line ship, formerly the Viking. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and was part of the 10th Cruiser Squadron blockading the seas between the North of Scotland and Iceland. On the 13th January HMS Viknor hit a mine recently laid by a German submarine and sank with all hands. Although some of the bodies were washed up on the Irish coast, Thomas Kitchingham was never found.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Thomas Henry Kitchingham of the R.M.L.I. (PO/16658), died on 13/01/1915, aged 18 years aboard HMS Viknor.
He is not commemorated in the National Roll (Section 10) but is remembered on the WW1 memorial outside St. Thomas's Church, the Cenotaph and the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 9).
Thomas was not the only member of the Kitchingham family to lose his life in WW1. His father's step-brother Charles Kitchingham was killed on the Western Front in July 1917.
Tim Backhouse
December 2013

To Cynthia Sherwood for her research