Image from 1917 Suffolk Chronicle Mercury newspaper.
Images courtesy of Mr John Wainwright
Born: 1886, Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Died: 26th July 1917; age 30; KiA – en route to Chateau Segard by shell near ‘Bedford House’.
He was about to to take special leave with a view to being married at Ipswich.
Residence: 33, Alan Road, Ipswich.
Employed: for 12 years with Mr. H.W. Parker, a Printer, at Fore Street, Ipswich.
Enlistment Location: Ipswich. Joined the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, in January 1910.
Robert was serving in South Africa at the outbreak of war, when he joined the British Expeditionary Force in France. He had seen three winters in the trenches.
Date of Entry Therein: 6th October 1914.
Wounded at Neuvre Chapelle – March 1915.
Rank: Company Sergeant Major; Service Number: 9517
Regiment: Bedfordshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion.
Medals Awarded: Victory, British War & 1914 Star + Clasp + Military Medal.
Awarded the M.M. for gallantry, bravery and devotion to duties in the field at the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Gazetted 16th November 1916.
Image from 1916 Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury newspaper for his MM award.
Enclosure No.4 II. Cl.5.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Charles & Elizabeth Kirby, of 57, Alan Road, Ipswich.
1891 3, Hamilton Cottages, Walton, Suffolk.
Robert was 5 years old and living with his parents & siblings.
Charles Kirby, 50, a Cab Driver, born Bredfield, Suffolk.
Elizabeth Ann Kirby, 35, born Leiston, Suffolk.
John Alexander Kirby, 14, born Leiston.
Edith Kirby, 12, born Leiston.
Caleb Kirby, 10, born Saxmundham, Suffolk.
May Kirby, 7, born Averham, Nottinghamshire.
Maude Kirby, 6, born Ipswich.
Randolph Kirby, 2, born Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Ernest Kirby, 2 weeks, born Walton, Suffolk.
1901 33, Alan Road, Ipswich.
Robert was 14 years old, a General Errand Boy. He was living with his parents & siblings.
Charles, 60, a Cab Driver – Groom.
Frank Kirby, 8, born Walton.
Reginald Kirby, 6, born Walton.
1911 Bermuda & Jamaica.
Robert was 24 years old, a Soldier ranked Private, of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.
Robert’s father, Charles Kirby, died 1908, Ipswich.
Robert was secretary for many years to the St. Clement’s Lads Institute and Football Club.
Soldiers’ Effects to Elizabeth A. Kirby – mother.
Robert is also remembered on the war memorial at St. Clement’s Congregational Church, Ipswich.
Robert is seated, far left second row from front.
Robert is standing far left back row.
The 2 Bedfordshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion photographs were taken on the 9th May 1917.
CALEB, FRANK & ROBERT KIRBY
On the 1st December 2004, DNW Auctions, sold the Kirby Brothers medals.
Date of Auction: 1st December 2004
Sold for £1,500
Estimate: £1,200 – £1,500
A very poignant family group:
A Great War M.M. group of four awarded to Company Sergeant-Major R. G. Kirby, Bedfordshire Regiment, who was killed in action on 26 July 1917
Military Medal, G.V.R. (9517 Sjt. R. G. Kirby, 2/Bedf. R.); 1914 Star, with clasp (9517 L. Cpl., Bedf. R.); British War and Victory Medals (9517 W.O. Cl. 2, Bedf. R.), with original campaign award card forwarding boxes, extremely fine
Three: Acting Sergeant F. Kirby, Royal Artillery, who died of wounds on 8 August 1917
1914-15 Star (36083 Gnr., R.G.A.); British War and Victory Medals (36083 A. Sjt., R.A.), with original campaign award card forwarding boxes, extremely fine
Four: Private C. Kirby, Royal Marine Light Infantry, who was killed in action while serving in the 1st Royal Marine Battalion, R.N.D., on 26 October 1917
1914-15 Star (PLY. 10040 Pte., R.M.L.I.); British War and Victory Medals (PLY. 10040 Pte., R.M.L.I.); Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.V.R., 1st issue (PLY. 10040 Private, R.M.L.I.), with original campaign award card forwarding boxes, extremely fine
Four: Major R. Kirby, Bedfordshire Home Guard, late Suffolk Regiment
1914-15 Star (2458 Pte., Suff. R.); British War and Victory Medals (2458 Sjt., Suff. R.); Defence Medal 1939-45, privately engraved ‘Major R. Kirby, 6th Bedfs. H.G.’, mounted as worn, one or two edge bruises but otherwise good very fine (15)
In The Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury of 14 January 1916, a special feature was published to mark the extraordinary case of the Kirby brothers, no less than seven of whom were serving with the Colours at that time. Their story had come to the attention of King George V in the previous year, and, via the offices of the Keeper of the Privy Purse, their mother, Mrs. Elizabeth A. Kirby of No. 33 (previously No. 57) Alan Road, Ipswich, received a letter in December 1915, in which the King’s gratitude for her family’s shining example of patriotism, loyalty and ‘devotion to the Empire’ was duly acknowledged. Inevitably, this example was not without cost, and within a shockingly short period of time in 1917 – just 12 weeks – three of them died as a result of enemy action.
Robert Gladstone Kirby was employed out in South Africa prior to the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, but had returned home in time to enlist in the Bedfordshire Regiment and join the B.E.F. out in France by early October 1914. A member of the 2nd Battalion, he was wounded at Neuve Chapelle in March 1915, but later rejoined his unit and was awarded the M.M., almost certainly as a result of bravery on the Somme in July 1916 (London Gazette 16 November 1916). Robert was killed in action on 26 July 1917, when his party, en route to Chateau Segard, was knocked out by a shell near “Bedford House”. He was 30 years of age and was interred in the Bedford House Cemetery.
Frank Kirby had witnessed active service in the Dardanelles prior to his death from wounds on 8 August 1917, while serving in France with the 90th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He was interred in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord).
Caleb Kirby was born at Saxmundham, Ipswich, Suffolk in February 1881, and entered the Royal Marines in November 1899. Posted to the Plymouth Division, he had a number of seagoing appointments in the period leading upto the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, but none of them of an active service nature, and he was awarded his L.S. & G.C. Medal in July 1915, by which stage he was serving in the Royal Naval Division. Caleb was killed in action on 26 October 1917, while serving in the 1st R.M. Battalion of the R.N.D., and was interred in the Ancre British Cemetery at Beaumont-Hamel. He was 36 years of age.
Reginald Kirby served as a Sergeant in the 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment during the Great War and was commissioned into the Home Guard in the 1939-45 War.