First World War hero, Angus Kilburn, one of our earliest poppy makers

hannah General

Angus Kilburn was injured 19 days before the end of the war on 23 October 1918, after a skirmish, when he and three other stretcher bearers went out into battlefield and were hit by a mortar. His three comrades were killed and Angus lost a leg.

According to Angus’s grandson, Duncan, when he returned to the UK he ended up in a rehabilitation hospital and made his own way up to Galashiels to find his mother who he had not seen since before the war.

As he had technically deserted, he was pursued by the military police who knocked on his mother’s door and planned to arrest him. They were very embarrassed when he made it to the door without a leg. Needless to say, he was still reprimanded and fined 15 days pay for desertion.

Angus retrained as a surveyor after the war but a new law prevented injured returning servicemen from being fired if they found employment. His grandson says the consequence was that no-one could get a job, so Angus joined The Poppy Factory.

During the second war conditions became so bad during the Blitz that he contracted TB and died in 1949.

Angus is pictured in the centre making poppies.

Angus is 10th from the left on the front row wearing his false leg in the group photo taken in 1923.

Angus joined The Poppy Factory in June 1922, making him one of the first workers employed at the original factory on the Old Kent Road, London.

More you might like