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In November we remember...


...Walter Kidman. Walter and his twin brother Arthur were born on 27 August 1888 and baptised on 16 December. They were the sons of George and Mary Kidman who lived at Papley Grove which lies on the edge of the village on the other side of the main road between Cambridge and St Neots. George and Mary had a large family by today’s standards: William, Emily, Frank, Matilda, Clara, twins Arthur and Walter, Eben and Rosa.

Walter was not immediately conscripted in 1916 as a Local Military Tribunal considered that he should be exempted from service for five months as he was needed to carry out agricultural work for his employer and was supporting his, by now, widowed mother.

However, on 17 January 1917 he was enlisted in the 7th Battalion, 3rd Suffolk Regiment and sometime later joined his Regiment in the Arras Sector of the Western Front.

The German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in 1917 meant that the German base at Cambrai, which was of strategic importance as a communications and supply base, was within easier reach for an Allied offensive. An attack started on 20 November. Nineteen Divisions and 476 tanks of the Tank Corps took part on a five and a half mile front. The battle lasted for nineteen days during which 48,000 British and 53,000 German soldiers lost their lives and the 7th Suffolks were almost wiped out.

Walter was killed in the fighting at Pelican Trench, near Gonnelieu, on Monday 26 November 1917. He was 29 years old.

Walter has no known grave; he is one of 7,000 men commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial to the missing on the road between Bapaume and Cambrai.

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