Lt-Col Kitchin DSO | Verner's MK VI Compass | Gallipoli
'He was a very brave officer, and was an inspiration to all near him.'
An early version of the MK VI Verner's Service Pattern prismatic marching compass, dating from c.1905-1914. There are no maker's marks, but this is a high quality compass and was most probably made by F. Barker & Son, J. H. Steward or one of the other prominent scientific instrument manufacturers of the period. This compass is in very good condition, with some wear to the original oxidised and lacquered finishes of the brass case. It is in full working order. The compass has the name of the officer it originally belonged to, 'C. E. Kitchin', engraved on the edge of the lid, along with his unit, '24th Regt' (South Wales Borderers).
Lt-Col. Charles Edward KitchinDSO (1877-1948) was an officer of the regular army, who served with the 4th Battalion South Wales Borderers. He was commissioned in 1897, joining the regiment as a second lieutenant. By 1898 he had been promoted to Captain and adjutant. During WW1 he fought at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia, winning the D.S.O. for gallantry and being mentioned in despatches four times. Kitchin disembarked at Gallipoli on 28 June 1915 and saw a great deal of action during the ensuing campaign. During heavy fighting in the action at Damakjelik Bar on 6-7th August Captain Kitchin was in command of 'C' Company SWB. The regiment suffered numerous casualties from shrapnel and sniper fire before 'C' company led by Captain Kitchin, along with part of 'D' Company, carried out a daring bayonet charge which drove the enemy back 200yds, at a cost of 4 men killed, 6 officers and 72 men wounded. In August Captain Kitchin and 'C' Company were once again in the thick of the fighting, being instrumental in holding the line at HIll 60. Despite being slightly wounded, Kitchin remained with his men throughout. One of the officers present, Major C. G. Powles of the NZMR later wrote, describing the actions of Captain Kitchin: '[He] very gallantly assisted in holding the NZ trench on the night of August 21/22nd. He was a very brave officer, and was an inspiration to all near him.' Kitchin went on to serve with distinction in the Mesopotamian campaign, during which he was badly wounded. By the end of the war he had risen to the rank of Lt-Colonel and commanded the 4th Battalion SWB. He finally left the army in 1932, retiring from the reserve of officers on 27th April.
Copies of the details I have of Lt-Colonel Kitchin's service will be included with the compass. With a little further research it should be possible to discover a great deal more about the military career of this distinguished and very courageous officer.
The Verner's MK VI was produced between c.1905-1914, and was standard issue to British officers at the start of WW1. It was replaced soon after the start of the war by later developments, such the MK VII. The mother-of -pearl compass card features black hand-painted markers over a luminous paint background. This type of luminous paint, most probably a version of 'Balmain's Luminous Paint' was a compound of calcium sulphide. The paint was made luminous by exposure to sunlight or, as suggested in the original instructions, by burning a strip of magnesium ribbon near the compass card. It was patented in England in 1877 by William Balmain, and was often used in compasses, before the introduction of radium paint rendered it obsolete just before WW1.
Lt-Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner (1852-1922) served on the staff in the Egyptian campaign of 1884-85 and during the Boer War. He retired as a Lt-Colonel in May 1904. The earliest Verner designs were simple pocket compasses, with the various models of the Service Pattern, MK III to MK VII, appearing between c.1900-1918. His prismatic service compasses were essentially a development of the Schmalcalder patent design of the early 19th century, but they remained the standard service compass of the British Army until the start of WW2. As well as designing compasses, Verner was a prolific author, military historian, and chronicler of the Rifle Brigade.
The compass is in very good condition and full working order. The rubber friction ring on the base on the compass has been replaced with a new one in the same style and colour as the original.
Dimensions : 52mm (case diameter, 72mm inc. prism)
(Please Note: this compass is not available for shipping to the USA)