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Robert Kirby was born in Kirkham in 1890 and was the son of William and Ellen Mary Kirby (nee Duxbury).

Robert`s parents were married in St. Michaels Church, Kirkham on 1 September, 1877. His mother Ellen Mary was born in Dublin and his father was a native of Kirkham. William and Ellen had fourteen children born but sadly five of those did not survive.

In 1911 Robert was living with his family in a six roomed house at 48 Marsden Street, Kirkham. Two sisters, Martha (1892) and Esther (1893) and two brothers William (1895) and Thomas (1900) were also at home. Also living with the family is Ann Marie Duxbury aged 75 she was Ellen Mary`s mother and was also born in Dublin.

Robert, his father and the other children were all working in a local cotton mill as cotton spinners and weavers.

Robert enlisted at Kirkham on 26 May, 1915 and was posted to the 3/4th Battalion. He was allocated the service number 3962. The Medical Officer reported that he was 5`10” tall and had a 36” chest. He had normal vision and he had good physical development.

Robert embarked at Southampton with a 2nd draft of reinforcements on 12 October, 1915 and arrived in France the following day. He was then sent to join the 1/4th Battalion in the field.

Unfortunately not long after Robert arrived in France his father William died and he was buried at St. Michael`s Church, Kirkham on the 27 October, 1915.

Robert Kirby was killed in action on 3 August, 1916.

Battalion account for 30 July-3rd August 1916

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.

The news of Robert`s death was reported in the Preston Guardian a short while later.


Private Robert Kirby was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals and his name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

Robert`s widowed mother Ellen Mary Dixon remarried to a John Wilson in 1917 and she signed for Robert`s medals in the name of Mrs.Wilson.

Rank: Private
Service No: 3962
Date of Death: 03/08/1916
Age: 28
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Research conducted by Janet Davis

Janet Davis
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