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, 31 July 2016

WILFRED KIRK

WILFRED CECIL KIRK



Private 13/555

13th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment 

Died of wounds - 31st July 1916


Wilfred Cecil Kirk was the son of Samuel and Caroline Kirk.  He was born in New Whittington and baptised there on 11th May 1894.  Wilfred had four brothers, however there had also been another child born to Samuel and Caroline which had not survived.

Samuel was a local lad to New Whittington, he met and married Caroline Gregory from the neighbouring village of Newbold in the winter of 1891/2.  Their first son was born, named after his father Samuel in later in 1892.  The couple lived in New Whittington for the early days of their marriage, Horace was born there in 1897.  

By the census of 1901 the family had moved to Barnsley, they lived at 60 Cooper Street and Samuel was employed as an iron moulder.  A 1 year old son named Harry was the newest addition to the family, he had been born in Worsborough.  Joseph followed in 1903 born at Lincoln. 

1911....

On the 1911 census the Kirk family were all at home together, they now lived at 9 Eveline Street in Cudworth, Barnsley.  Samuel was still employed as an iron moulder, his sons Samuel, Wilfred and Horace had all found employment as coal miners.  Young Harry and Joseph were still attending school.




Wedding bells....

Wilfred met a young lady named Lydia Mabel Lobb.  Lydia was the daughter of William and Harriett.  She was a few years older than Wilfred being born on 21st February 1891.  Lydia had been born in Brisbane, Australia.  Her father William was a bricklayer, he may well have travelled to work in Australia.  He married Lydia's mother Harriett on 4th March 1890 in Queensland.  Lydia had returned to England by 1896 when her sister Joyce was born in Cudworth.  

Wilfred and Lydia married on 28th October 1912, a happy occasion which Wilfred would be able to remember when he was fighting for King and Country.  

A son was born to newly wed couple late 1912/early months of 1913. He was named after his Uncle; Horace.  Sadly this child died very soon after his birth.  (note, I have not purchased the registration certificates to confirm this fact).

Samuel, Wilfred's elder brother was next to marry.  His fiancee was Mary Guest and they made their vows at St John the Baptist Church in Cudworth on 25th August 1913.

Wilfred's war....

Wilfred's service records have survived and although they are not very clear in places they are very informative.  Wilfred enlisted at Barnsley on 22nd September 1914, at that time he lived at 11 Well Street in Cudworth with his new wife Lydia.  He was employed as a coal miner at Houghton Main Colliery before the war.

Wilfred was given a soldiers number; 13/555 the number 13 meaning that his Battalion was the 13th Battalion, serving with the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment.  The 13th Battalion was a service battalion, it was formed on 17th September 1914, just days before Wilfred had enlisted.  The 13th was a "Pals" regiment, local men were encouraged to join up with their friends, family and work colleagues.  This would, it was thought lead to a more productive and happy group of soldiers. The 13th were thus known as the Barnsley Pals.

Wilfred and his friends marched around the country and undertook their basic training.  In December 1914 they moved to Silkstone where they remained until May 1915 when they spent two months at the Penkridge Camp at Cannock Chase.  In December 1915 the men were moved on to Salisbury Plain, from there they set sail for Egypt.

The 13th were part of the 31st Division whose job was to guard the Suez Canal.  The Suez Canal had been attacked earlier in 1915, it was a major trade route for the British which needed to be kept under our control and so was heavily guarded.  In December of 1915 a new strategy was adopted which meant that the canal would be guarded from a short distance away, which was hoped would ensure that our troops would not be such easy targets for the Turkish gun fire.  The railways around the area were also doubled using local men to build these new lines.

March 1916 saw the Barnsley Pals join the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F) in France.  They left their camp in Kantara at 6.30am and marched to the train station where they entrained for Port Said at 8.30am arriving two hours later.   At 7.30pm on 11th March Wilfred sailed out of Port Said harbour on the H.M.T Megantic destined for Marseilles.  They eventually arrived at the port of Marseilles at 9am on 16th March but were anchored off shore and remained on the ship awaiting further instructions. 



Entry to the French theatre of war....

The men were disembarked on 18th March and took a train to Pont Remy from where they marched onward to various destinations over the coming weeks.  Their time was spent assisting with mining duties and they often subjected to enemy fire.  On 6th April at Mailly Mallett the battalion were heavily shelled for 90 minutes, which included gas shells also.  Two men were wounded on this day.

They remained based at Mailly Mallett until 23rd June 1916 when the battalion moved out to Warnimont Wood.  The war diary notes "23rd to 29th daily routine and practising attack formations".  The strength of the battalion at that time was 38 Officers, 1003 Other Ranks.  

Attack on Serre....

On 30th June most of the battalion set of to their assembly trenches just west of the town of Serre.  They left behind 10 Officers and 174 other ranks as reinforcements.  Wilfred and his comrades were ready in their allotted assembly trenches by 5am on 1st July 1916.  At 7.30am "attack on Germans and village of Serre commenced".  Wilfred was with "B" Company which left the trenches at 7.40am under the command of Major Guest.  The war diary tells "the advance was carried out in perfect order under a terrific hostile artillery bombardment and machine gun fire.  Major Guest and all his officers as well as those of the "chasing party" being killed or wounded before reaching the first German line".

The men of the "B" Company carried out their duty with bravery, "although this advance had to be carried out under a perfect tornado of fire all the ranks advanced as steadily as if on a drill parade".  We can be proud of the bravery which Wilfred and his Barnsley Pals showed in huge amounts on that first day of the Battle of the Somme.  The night of the 1st July was spent "in collecting wounded and dead within our line and from NO MANS LAND"  "C Company did splendid work in rescuing wounded from NO MANS LAND under continual fire".

Wilfred was wounded on 1st July 1916, that first day of the Somme offensive, he received a gun shot wound to the chest.  He was taken to the field hospital for immediate medical care.  We can only begin to imagine how many other wounded men were also at that field hospital over the coming days and weeks.  Wilfred would be one of thousands of men needing treatment at that time.  

By 20th July 1916 he was transferred to No2 Stationary Hospital where he sadly died of his wounds on 31st July 1916.  Wilfred was buried at Abbeville Cemetery and given full military honours at his funeral on 2nd August 1916.

The war diary for the 13th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment gives the following figures for the date of 1st July and the time in the trenches on 2nd, 3rd and 4th July;


"Officers - Killed 6, wounded 6
Other ranks - Killed 40, wounded 183, missing 51
Total number of casualties = 286"




Private 13/555 Wilfred Kirk is buried at the Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.  His grave reference is Vi F.8.  His grave shows the sign of the cross with no further inscriptions from the family.





Wilfred was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service.

Wilfred's obituary was written in the Barnsley Chronicle 12th August 1916.  The obituary tells how Lydia received letters of condolence....


"The Sister wrote; "Your husband had a severe 
hemorrhage from the chest; he gradually sank
and passed peacefully away. I know that it 
will be a terrible blow to you and his mother
for he often spoke of you both to me"

The Chaplain (Rev E Milner-White) forwarded
the following; "Dear Madam, - By now you will have 
heard the sad news of your husband's death in hospital
from wounds.  Despite the short time here, I knew him
well and the suddenness of it was a great shock.

He was buried in the lovely cemetery of Abbeville, 
with full military honours and a church service.  
How tenderly cared for are the graves you will 
see by the photo.  If you wish, I can send, in 
two months time or so, a photo of the actual grave
and the cross already standing.  The French folk
covered the grave with flowers"

Life went on....

Lydia Mabel moved to 19 Bridge Street when Wilfred went off to war. She would mourn her loss along with her many friends and family around her. The nursing Sister who was nursing Wilfred and the Reverend who also grew to know Wilfred during his time at No2 Stationary Hospital in France both wrote personal letters to Lydia telling her of his time in the hospital, his death and his burial.  She would received her late husbands belongings and medals through the post in the years after his death.

Happy times did return for Lydia when on 26th February 1917 she married Charles Watson at St John the Baptist Church in Cudworth. Charles was a boiler fireman aged 34 years old, he had not been married before.

Lydia and Charles went on to have six children; William, Annie, Ada, Eveline, Mary and Eunice.  In 1939 they were living with their daughters Eunice, Annie and her husband Joseph Vamplew.  

Lydia died in 1970 aged 79 years of age.  She was buried at St John the Baptist Church in Cudworth on 14th April 1970.

Samuel & Caroline Kirk what became of Wilfred's parents has been difficult to ascertain.  Caroline may have returned to Barrow Hill with her sons; Horace, Harry and Joseph shortly after WW1.  The deaths for both Samuel and Caroline are not known but Caroline may have died in 1928, registered in the Chesterfield area.  

Samuel Kirk was serving with the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry during WW1.  He was wounded prior to Wilfred's death and was transferred back to England to receive medical care at Lord Derby's War Hospital in Warrington.

After the war he returned to Barnsley and in 1939 he was living with his wife Mary at 17 Albion Terrace. He may have died in 1964 aged 72 years old.

Horace Kirk also took part in the Great War.  He enlisted on 6th October 1914 aged 19 years and 4 days old. He was described as having "blue eyes, fair complexion and auburn hair". He was attached to the machine gun section of the York and Lancaster Regiment, the 13th Barnsley Battalion.  

Horace, Private 547 was sent to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 28th December 1915 where he remained until moving to France on 11th March 1916.  He did well and was promoted to Acting Lance Corporal on 1st December 1916 until 8th July 1917 when he was moved on to work at the Depot.  

The horrors of war did take their toll on Horace and he went absent without leave for 3 days in March 1918. His service records record "Shell shock, caused by active service".

Horace's conduct was also noted on the records as "Character very good".

After the war Horace returned to civilian life and lived for a brief time back near Chesterfield at 10 Furnace Hill, Barrow Hill.  On 22nd May 1920 Horace tied the knot with Hilda Quinton.  Hilda and Horace lived next door to each other at 19 and 21 Albion Terrace, Cudworth.  Their marriage took place at St Peters Church in Barnsley.

Horace died in 1945 aged 48 years of age.

Harry Kirk & Joseph Kirk  what became of Wilfred's two youngest brothers is not known at this time.  If any one is related to these two men and would like to add to this blog then please contact me.

CUDWORTH, BARNSLEY....


Cudworth War Memorial
kind permission of Linda Hutton
Cudworth War Memorial
kind permission of Linda Hutton



















Wilfred was born in New Whittington but he spent most of his life living in Cudworth, he attended school there and married there.  He is thus remembered on the towns war memorial.  

He was also remembered twice in the Barnsley Chronicle; his wound was reported on 22nd July 1916 and his death and photograph appeared in the 12th August 1916 edition.

The lives and stories of the men of Barnsley who served during World War 1 are being researched and remembered by a group named Barnsley War Memorials.  The work they do can be viewed by clicking here.

Wilfred is also remembered on the Cudworth Park Somme Memorial which can be seen here.

Special thanks to Linda Hutton for her help with this post, Linda provided me with the photographs above and also copies of the two newspaper articles.  Thank you Linda for your assistance and agreement for use of the photos on my blog to remember Wilfred Kirk.

Linda also writes a blog and this can be accessed by clicking here.


*****

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on Wilfred 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  -
Census
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Service record - www.ancestry.co.uk

Newspaper articles - Barnsley Chronicle


War diaries - Piece 2365/2 13th York & Lancaster Regiment March 1916-Feb 1918




Lives of the First World War community https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/community/1353


Barnsley War Memorials Project http://www.barnsleywarmemorials.org.uk/





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