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Hunt for families of city sailors

Omission: The grave of John Harrison is in line for a military headstone

Omission: The grave of John Harrison is in line for a military headstone

The families of two ‘forgotten’ sailors who died in service are being traced by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

The organisation, which seeks to commemorate the memory of fallen servicemen, wants to install two official headstones for Boy 1st Class John Harrison, and Able Seaman Henry Kitchen, at their graves in Preston Cemetery.

The CWGC were contacted by volunteers from the national In From The Cold Project, alerting them to the 93-year-old oversight.

CWGC spokesman Peter Francis said: “At the time of these two men’s deaths, the military authorities failed to notify the CWGC of eligibility.

“Back in the 1920s, the idea of commemorating a serviceman was a new concept and the administrative system somehow broke down.

“What we know is that these two men were hospitalised during their service and died in UK, and they didn’t get the war grave that they should have done.

“We were made aware of the omissions by members of the In From The Cold project, and we hope to put this right.

“We’d like to install a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone at their graves, and would like the family of both men to be involved in the design process.”

Typically each headstone contains the national emblem or regimental badge, rank, name, unit, date of death and age of each casualty inscribed above a religious symbol, and a more personal dedication chosen by relatives.

Mr Francis added: “This is the lovely part of our job and we will be very pleased to speak to the families.”

Both men are believed to have been born in the Preston area, both served on HMS Vivid, and both died in 1921.

Records show that John Harrison was 17 when he died on Sunday, May 29, 1921, and Henry Kitchen was 34 when he died of an illness on Wednesday, May 11, 1921.

Anybody who wishes to contact the CWGC should call the enquiries line on 01628 507200 or email: commemorations@cwgc.org

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