KIRBY, Frederick William

Second Lieutenant, Frederick William KIRBY
Aged 24

19 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
Killed in Action on Friday, 21st September 1917

Possunt quia posse videntur - They can because they think they can.

Frederick William KIRBY was born on 10th October 1892 in Over (St.Ives Q4-1892 3B:285) son of Fred and Louisa KIRBY (née CARTER).

1901 census...Aged 8, he was at Hill Farm, Longstanton Road, Over with his father Fred KIRBY [42] farmer, born Over; his mother Louisa [42] born Swavesey; sisters Mary [6], Jessie[5] and Annie L. [1]; brother Benjamin C. [2]. All the children were born in Over.

1911 census...Aged 18, working on father's farm; he was still at Hill Farm with his parents; sisters Mary and Annie Louisa and brother Benjamin Carter. Of the six children, one had died.

He tried farming in Canada, but decided to return to UK in 1913.

First enlisting in the 1st/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry on 23rd September 1914, trooper No. 1209 (later 145433), he was 5 ft 8.5 inches (174 cm) tall, chest 36.5" to 39.5" (92.7 to 100.3 cm). He was in France/Flanders by 6th November 1914, which means either he did not reach the front line by 22nd, or his family did not claim the clasp to his 1914 Star.
He was admitted to 17 Field Ambulance on 31st July 1915 with dental caries and forwarded to 10 Casualty Clearing Station on 2nd August. Apparently evacuated to UK as he embarked at Southampton on 2nd August for Le Havre and rejoined B Squadron in the field.
He underwent an R.F.C Morse examination in October 1916, being marked at 11 words per minute, very good accuracy and style. His score for receiving was only 4 w.p.m. explained by the fact that he had had no opportunity to practise.
He was posted back to UK on 16th January 1917 for commissioning and he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on 1st February 1917. From Royal Flying Corps depot, Farnborough, he arrived at School of Military Aeronautics, Royal Flying Corps, Oxford on 4th April 1917. He had been a trooper in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry for 2 years 7 months. Education - Cambridge & County School and East Anglian School, Bury St.Edmunds. A farmer, home address Over, Cambridgeshire and activities noted were Football, Swimming, Hunting, Shooting and Motoring.
Gazetted temp 2nd Lieutenant, General List, Royal Flying Corps on 17th May 1917. Confirmed 14th July, and after training at 15 Training School, 11 T.S. and 56 T.S, he was posted to 19 Squadron on 25th August 1917 (extra annotation "Spad")

He was last seen in combat over Dadizeele, Belgium on 21st September 1917 flying Spad Ser.No. B3533. His loss, at 9:50 am, was claimed by Hauptmann Oskar Gustav Rudolf Berthold, who was piloting an Albatross 3 of Jagdstaffel 18

His personal effects, returned by the Germans, were :- Wallet - Leather photo case containing photographs - Advance book - cheque book - Identity disc -Treasury note case - driver's licence - Photographs - 1 France - bunch of keys

Initially buried by the Germans in the German extension to Halluin Communal Cemetery (grave 904) and moved to Pont du Hem in 1923. There is a very comprehensive account of his military career in John Symond's book, "Heroes of Over"

No. 19 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was founded on 1st September 1915, training on a variety of aircraft before being sent to France in July 1916 flying B.E.12s and then re-equipping with the more suitable French-built Spads. Late 1917 the squadron started to receive Sopwith Dolphins to replace its Spads. In 1938 they were the first squadron to receive Spitfires . They are now disbanded (2016)

photos from John Symond's book "Heroes of Over"

Commemorated on his parents headstone

photo: Rodney Gibson.

Frederick Kirby is buried in Pont du Hem Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, grave 4:H:27
and commemorated on his parent's headstone in Over cemetery

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details