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  Harry Kilhams 

Private G/1296
 8th (Service) Battalion The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Killed in Action 16/05/1917, aged 24

Buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Ypres, Belgium (IV. E.30)
Remembered on :
Ewhurst War Memorial,  Memorial Plaque and Book of Remembrance
Ellen's Green Memorial Tablet
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Roll of Honour, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford

Private Harry Kilhams, Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Ypres
(courtesy of Nigel Balchin)







HARRY KILHAMS (1) was born in March 1893, and his birth was registered in the district of Steyning, West Sussex (2). In the 1911 Census return Harry, a gardener, is noted as living with his parents John & Elizabeth Kilhams and sister Louise Kilhams (b c1898) at Maybanks, near Cox Green (between Ellen's Green and Rudgwick). John remained at Maybanks and was registered as living there in the 1914 Electoral Roll (3).

He attested at Stoughton Barracks in Guildford, the depot of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) on 31st August 1914, aged 21(4), and became Private G/1296 ( the prefix of G denoted that Harry was a member of the New Armies, recruited as part of the drive for volunteers by Lord Kitchener, the Minister of War).

The 8th (Service) Battalion, Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) formed in Guildford in September 1914, as a K3 battalion (The third intake of Kitchener's volunteer battalions). It joined 72nd Brigade of the 24th Division at  based at Shoreham, and was undertaking musketry training and field training from Blackdown, near Aldershot in August when, on the 21st news was received that the battalion would shortly be moving to France.


On 30th August 1915 an advance party departed Farnborough for Southampton, and then Havre. The following day the remainder of the battalion entrained at Frimley station for Folkestone, and the channel crossing to France arriving in Boulogne on 1st September, 1915, although Harry's medal record card notes that he landed in France on 1st June 1915 (5).

The 8th Bn reached the front line at Vermelles on the afternoon of 25th September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos. The 72nd Brigade took over trenches west of Le Rutoire Farm. The following day, from the German trenches captured on the 25th, the brigade attacked at 11.15am in the direction of the ground to the south of the village of Hulluch.

Advance of 8th Bn Queen's (RWSR) on 26th September 1915

As the battalion crossed the Lens-La Basse Road, south of Hulluch, it was subjected to heavy shrapnel and machinegun fire from the village, which had been reported as being in British hands, and then was faced by swathes of uncut wire. The advancing British line lay down whilst efforts were made to cut the line, but as this proved unsuccessful the brigade withdrew to the British line, having suffered 12 officer and 409 other rank casualties, including their commanding officer and another Ewhurst man, L/Cpl William Haffenden. The battalion had been in France for just over 3 weeks, and this had been its first experience under fire. Presumably Harry Kilhams had experienced the day and withdrawn with the battalion to recover its strength.

It was to be the end of November before the battalion returned to the front line trenches, at which time its strength in the line was just 400 men, as replacements were still undergoing training. Following this spell it was once again withdrawn from the line, remaining in the rear through the Christmas period and into 1916.

At the start of 1916, the 24th Division, including the 8th Queens, moved north toward the Ypres area, remaining here and to its south, near Kemmel, until 24th July 1916, when they moved south, to the Battle of the Somme.


Having arrived in the rear areas of the Somme battlefield, it was to be the 10th August 1916 before 8th Queens moved up to the front line. By 1st September the 8th were positioned in Delville Wood, scene of bitter fighting from 15th July until its final capture on 25th August. The Wood remained a treacherous place, and 8th Queen's suffered 143 casualties before they were finally withdrawn from the line on the night of 5th September 1916. In the middle of September the battalion moved north again to the Vimy Ridge area, south of Ypres.


The 8th Queen's remained in the area of Ypres into 1917, moving around the salient. taking the line to the right of Hooge on 14th May 1917. Preparations were underway for the forthcoming British offensive now known as the Third Battle of Ypres, which finally commenced on 31st July 1917. The battalion's history notes that during May the enemy twice attempted to raid the battalion's trenches, and it is possible that during one of these actions, on 16th May 1917, that Private Harry Kilhams was killed. His body was recovered and he was laid to rest in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Ypres, in grave IV. E.30.

Harry was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Ypres, showing (A) the area in which Pte Kilhams was killed, and
(B) Railway Dugouts Burial Ground


Follow this Link to details about First World War Medals


(1) Referred to as "Kilham" on all Ewhurst & Ellen's Green Memorials
(2) BDM Online, Soldiers Fallen in the Great War notes that Harry was born in Brighton.
(3) John Kilhams is mentioned in the 1891 Census as living in the civil parish of Pagham, West Sussex, aged 34. According to the record 'Soldiers Fallen in the Great War', Harry Kilhams gave his place of residence as Pagham, Sussex, and place of enlistment as Cranleigh.
(4) Queen's RWSR Attestation Register, (Surrey History Centre)
(5) Medal Record Card, disparity as the 8th Bn arrived in France at Boulogne on 01/09/15 (History of the Queen's Royal Regiment, p238)

History of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) by Col H C Wylly C.B.



Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey