Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Private Robert Kirby, 1st/4th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme.
One of fourteen children, he and his father and siblings worked in a Lancashire cotton mill as spinners and weavers. In May of 1915 he enlisted and at first joined the 3rd/4th Battalion, his medical report showing that he was tall for that era at 5’10”, and in good physical condition. He embarked from Southampton in October of 1915, being sent to join the 1st/4th Battalion in the field, at the same time finding out that his father had passed away.
The following is taken from the battalion’s account for the days leading up to the day of his death: “On the night of the 30th July the Battalion were sent into trenches at Guillemont, occupying some old German communication trenches (Dublin and Casement trenches), which contained no dugouts. Within a few hours of the Battalion`s arrival the enemy opened out on the trenches and battery positions in the vicinity with 5.9`s and heavier shell. Second Lieutenants Orrell and Crone were wounded, as also were 15 other ranks. August – The line held extended from Maltzhorn Farm linking up with the French on the right, to a point near Arrow Head Copse. The trenches were incomplete, as they were newly dug, and besides being narrow and shallow, they had not been joined up in several places. The enemy bombardment was more or less severe every day, and on the 3rd Second Lieutenants C.S. Munro and J. Hunt were wounded, along with 16 other ranks, whilst 3 men were killed.”
Private Kirby was one of the three men killed during that bombardment, and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
Robert, from Kirkham in Lancashire, was 27 years old.