|Date of Birth||October 18, 1863|
|Place of Birth||Cressing, Essex|
|Next of Kin||Alice Venman Hitchen, wife, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Market Gardener|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||November 11, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||52|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 20, 1938|
|Age at Death||75|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
It is likely that Frederick Hitchen was born on 18 October 1863 in Cressing, Essex, England although his death record gives the year as 1864. His father, born in Finchingfield, Essex, was Aaron Hitchen and his mother, born in Bradwell, Essex, was Mary Ann Ager. Aaron and Mary Ann had married during the third quarter of 1855. Over the years Aaron worked as an agricultural or general labourer. As found in the 1871 England census, known children born to the family were Walter, Emily, George, Fred and his twin brother Arthur, and Thomas.
Fred found his calling early in the military, serving with the 2nd Devonshire Regiment for almost 13 years, with over 10 years spent in East India. Achieving rank of ‘full Corporal’, according to his obituary he was a veteran of the Boer War as well. During the last quarter of 1893 Fred married Alice Venman Small, marriage registered in the district of St Thomas, Devonshire. The couple gave birth to a son Arthur Thomas during the first quarter of 1898 in the district of Newton Abbot in Devonshire. By the 1911 Canada census, Fred, Alice, and Arthur were farming in the rural area of Jaffray just outside of Kenora in Ontario. Immigration year given on the census was 1910.
On 11 November 1915 Fred signed his attestation papers in Kenora, giving a false birth date due to his advanced age. His occupation was given as market gardener and his actual age was 52. Along with a number of other Kenora fellows, he left for Port Arthur, Ontario in May of 1916 for brief training with the 94th Battalion before heading east. The 94th left for Valcartier, Quebec for ‘summer camp’ as they called it in early June, and embarked for overseas from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Olympic on the 28th of June. On board was Sergeant (Instructor) Frederick Hitchen.
Once overseas the 94th was disbanded with the men transferred to reserve battalions. Fred was transferred to the 32nd Reserve Battalion but due to his age and a history of rheumatism he was unable to keep pace with training expectations. He reverted to the rank of Private and posted to the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre for base duty in mid October of 1916. However he was found medically unfit for service due to his age in December and was discharged from service on 30 January 1917 in Quebec.
Fred returned to the Kenora area to farm as found in the 1921 census. He died on 20 August 1938 in the Kenora General Hospital, followed by Alice in 1942. Their son Arthur stayed in Kenora, married Emma Geraldine Galinski, and died in 1976 followed by Emma in 2000. Arthur and Emma had one child, a son Earl. Fred, Alice, Arthur, and Emma Hitchen are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. Fred’s gravemarker was replaced in 2015.
by Judy Stockham