Welcome to my blog......

The purpose of this blog is to remember the fallen heroes of the Great War, whose names are recorded on the memorial plaque situated in St Barnabas Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 I aim to research all of the men on the memorial. I hope to ensure that the brave men who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago are remembered and each man's story told.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the men; photos, letters or passed down memories. Any descendents are most welcome to contact me and I will provide copies of the research that I have undertaken.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"

For The Fallen,
Laurence Binyon September 1914.

Sunday, 9 August 2015



Private 22505

9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters

Killed in action - 9th August 1915 

John James Kirk being the first born son was named after his father John James Kirk senior.  Born around 1891 he was baptised on 13th December that same year; son of John and Martha Kirk.

John Kirk senior and Martha Dean had married in 1888.  They soon had a little baby girl named Alice Elizabeth, born a year later.  The 1891 census shows the young Kirk family living on the High Street at Whittington (John junior was not recorded so we can assume Martha would have been pregnant on the census night).  John snr was employed as a railway fireman. 

John James jnr was the next child born after Alice; followed by George Henry in 1896 and Fred in 1900.  They were living at 23 Cross Wellington Street in New Whittington on the 1901 census.  The family were doing well for themselves, John snr had been promoted to railway engine driver.

Another sister was born in 1903 named Mary Hannah and then in 1905 Edna Kirk made the family complete.  By 1911 the family had moved home again to Devonshire Road, New Whittington.  John snr was still employed as an engine driver for Midland Railway, John jnr was 19 years old and worked at the colliery as a loader, George aged 14 years old worked as a pony driver at the colliery.  Alice was 21 and living with her paternal grandmother Mary Kirk at 53 High Street, she was working as a general servant.

Wedding bells....

John jnr married Olive Waddoups at Whittington on 25th May 1914.  The couple had a son named Jack.  He was just 10 months old when he lost his father to the Great War.

John's war.....

John served with the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, alongside the other local men; Norman Croaysdill and Francis Maskery.  John's service records have not survived but a newspaper article states that John enlisted in the January of 1915 and left for the Dardanelles on 1st July 1915.

The 9th Battalion was a service battalion, it formed in Derby in August 1914 and set sail from Liverpool in early July 1915, arriving in Suvla Bay on 7th August 1915.

If John sailed out with the 9th Battalion then tragically he only saw 2 days with the British Expeditionary Force for he was killed on 9th August 1915.  The battalion were forced to evacuate from Gallipoli in December 1915.

The war diaries for the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters during the time period relevant to John's service are missing however searching the internet I have managed to locate a post which gives details from the 33rd Brigade War Diaries which includes an account of the 9th August 1915 for the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  The article can be found here.

The diary states that the 9th Battalion left at 4am on 9th August to take up their position in line at Damak Jelik Bair by 6am.  They were soon caught up in sniper fire but were not able to return that fire.  By 15.30 that day many of the battalion had been forced back; A and B Coys were both under Captain Squires; "He was at once killed and his left platoon decimated as the Turks had pushed a larger force about 2 Coys into the gap and began to open a heavy enfilade fire on both A and B Coysref from the above link to the post on the WW1 invision forum.

John was reported missing in action on 9th August 1915.  He was 24 years old. 

John is remembered on the Helles Memorial in Turkey, panel 150 to panel 152.  He has no known grave.  

John was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 15 Star for his service.
Derbyshire Times - 11th September 1915
page 8
Life went on....

Olive and Jack found themselves without John; a husband and a father.  I wonder if John ever got to meet his little son Jack?

Register of soldiers effects - John J Kirk
Olive was awarded £2 6s 5d pension to compensate for John's death which rose to £3 in 1919.

Derbyshire Times - 5th June 1936 p13
Having researched the records available I am happy to find a newspaper article which told of the marriage of Jack Kirk to Miss May Shemwell on 30th May 1936.
The couple married at St Barnabas Church, New Whittington and the bride wore a white satin beaute dress with veil and a coronet of orange blossom.

The article states that Jack was the son of the late J Kirk and Mrs W Henson.  Indicating that Olive may have also found happiness in the form of a Mr W Henson.

Jack and May do not appear to have any children, but as I have concluded these facts from indexes only I would love to hear from any family members who might be able to confirm or correct my assumptions.  Jack died in 1976 aged 61 and May lived on to reach the good age of 87 when she died in 1998.

I believe that Olive married again on 21st April 1919 at St Bartholomew's Church, New Whittington.  Walter her spouse was aged 25 years and worked as a miner.  The couple went on to have seven children; Marion, Frank, Jean, Stanley, Jeffrey, Kathleen and Keith.  Sadly both Frank and Stanley both died in childhood.  Olive died in 1978.

John snr and Martha lived at 3 London Street at the time of John jnr's death.  They had a few more house moves; living at Handley Road until a few months before John's death in 1937 when they moved to 175 Prospect Road, Old Whittington. 
Derbyshire Times - 9th July 1937 page 21

John died on 4th July 1937 aged 72 years old.  He had worked for the L.M.S Railway Company until he retired around 1930.  The obituary remembers the son whom "he lost in the Great War". 

Probate entry for John James Kirk snr 1937

Derbyshire Times - 23rd June 1939
page 21
John's probate was claimed by his son George Henry Kirk and another man named Alfred Wass.  John's estate amounted to £1439 5s 4d.
Martha died a few years after John in June1939 aged 71 years old.  Her obituary included a photograph and told of her work for the Red Cross during the Great War and of how many charities have benefitted from her kind work.

Alice may be the daughter who is reported in John snr's obituary as having died a few years ago. 

George Henry  also served during WW1.  He joined the Royal Horse Royal Field Artillery on 15th June 1915.  George used the skills he would have gained whilst working as a pony driver at the colliery.  He was posted to the Veterinary Hospital in 1916 and took qualifications as a shoeing smith whilst with them.  His rank was Private 30255. 
Probate entry for George Henry Kirk 1945
After the war George may have married Edith Gadsby in 1932.  George died on 8th November 1945 aged 49 years old.  He was living at 262 Handley Road.  His probate was to Frederick Gadsby and Stephen Cresswell.  Frederick may have been brother in law to George.

Fred  died in 1949 aged just 48 years old.

Mary Hannah Trueman lived to the grand age of 95 years old.  She married Alfred Hunt in 1929 and I believe had at least one daughter.

Edna  married Robert S Sadler in 1928.  She died in 1976 aged 67 years old.

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on John James Kirk or his family please do either leave comments via the pen icon below or drop me an email.
I hope that I have not given details of living persons, if so please advise and I will remove immediately.
Please note all information has been taken from online indexes and sources.  Due to the sheer numbers of people to be researched I am unable to purchase vital event certificates to confirm my research.

Ref and further reading  -
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Times

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