Lance Corporal Henry (Harry) Kirkley

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Supported by the National Lottery's Heritage Fund, our project intends to submit about 120 names for peer review to add them to the book which is kept at Keighley Library. The unveiling of the book with it's new names is planned for November 2024, 100 years after the unveiling of the original war memorial.


Acting Lance Corporal. 402nd Mech. Transport Coy. Army Service Corps. Service Number M2/182865.

A head and shoulders portrait of a man wearing a dark suit and tie, facing the camera.

Henry (Harry) Kirkley.

Early life:

Henry was born in 1888 and his parents were Thomas and Margaret J. Kirkley née Moore, who had married in 1871. Henry's birth was registered in Wharfedale in the third quarter of 1888.
In the 1891 census they were living at 42, Sun Lane at Burley in Wharfedale and Thomas was employed as a worsted weaving overlooker. Thomas and Margaret had five children at the time who were George, aged 18 and a worsted weaver; Annie, aged 11 and at school; Polly, aged 5 and at school; Harry (Henry) aged 2; and the youngest, Allan, aged just 11 months.

In the 1901 census Harry was living at 2, Hainworth Crag Road in Keighley, with his parents Thomas and Marget both aged 50. Thomas was still a worsted weaving overlooker and Margaret was a housewife. Annie was 21, Polly was 15 and Harry was 12 and they were all worsted weavers. Allan was ten and at school and the youngest was Maggie, aged just five.

An old motorised bus, about 1913. One man standing next to it is the conductor and the driver is sitting in his seat.

Harry at the wheel of his bus at Oakworth around 1913.

By the time of the 1911 census Harry was 22. He was living at 104 Fell Lane in Keighley and was employed as a motor bus driver for the Borough Council. He was still single.
The family details are as follows: Thomas and Margaret were now 60. They had been married for 39 years and had produced seven children, one of whom had died.

Thomas was a wood sawyer's labourer at a timber yard. Living with them were Harry aged 22, who was a motor bus driver for the Borough Council; Allan aged 20, and a general labourer; Maggie aged 15, and a worsted spinner and Thomas Hubert Kirkley aged 14, a worsted doffer and the grandson of Thomas and Margaret and he was the child of George (their eldest son) and his wife Lilly née Horner.

Three men and a young boy with a six seater car, probably taken within a few years of 1915.

Harry is driving this vehicle at Netherside Hall in Grassington.

A year later in 1912, Henry married Jennie Briddon, their marriage was registered in Keighley in the second quarter of the year.
Henry and Jennie had two children. Allan was born on 9th March 1913 and his birth was registered at Keighley in the second quarter of the year. Winifred was born on 17th June 1915 and her birth was registered at Skipton in the third quarter of the year.

Harry and Jennie moved from Keighley to Grassington when he got a job as a chauffeur for Mr. Charles Holdsworth, J.P., of Netherside Hall.

 

Two soldier's in uniform pose at a photographic studio. they are holding metal tipped canes.

Private Harry Kirkley on the right. The other soldier is unknown.

War service:

No service records exist for Harry. Two photographs show him wearing the badge of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and we think he served with the territorials before the war. Accoridng to other sources, he enlisted at Skipton around June 1916 joining the Army Service Corps under a General Service enlistment.
He would have done his Army training and then he went out to France with the Army Service Corps immediately after his training was completed, which would be about October or November 1916. His family still have a Christmas card from December of that year. There are also several items of trench art in their possession and one of two fuse covers (made into drinking cups) has been engraved with the following place names: SOMME - 16, ARRAS - 17, MESSINES - 17 and YPRES - 16 - 17.

Eight soldiers in front of several white bell tents, they appear to be on a summer training camp.

Harry with the West Riding Regiment, (Territorials) on summer camp.

Harry was killed in action whilst serving with the 402nd Mechanised Transport Company of the Army Service Corps and within that he was serving with 116 Siege Battery Ammunition Column at the time. Apparently he was found dead at his post, having been struck by a shell fragment, however none of the men saw him fall. The war diary states he died of wounds, which suggests he was found wounded and then died. He was buried in grave 9 of row M in plot I of Oxford Road Cemetery in Belgium.

War Diary:

Page 51 of the war diary WO 95/1080/3, War diary entry, Corps Siege Park (402 Company A.S.C.):
Field. 8/11/17:
Temporary Lieutenant B. D. Bridgewater reported for duty with 67 S.B.A.C. from 77th Auxiliary ### Company A.S.C.
2nd. Lieutenant H. E. B. Baker 191 S.B.A.C. Proceeded on leave. 2 Holt caterpillars left the corps for 2nd Army Siege Park.
Captain Lambeth taken charge of the Canadian HAG ASC.
The following casualties were reported.
189397. Pte. Holmake, J. 116 S.B.A.C. Wounded.
115749. Pte. Horne W. H. 286 S.B.A.C. Wounded.
190174. Pte. King, F. W. 211 S.B.A.C. Wounded.
179390. Pte. Griffiths, J. 211 S.B.A.C. Wounded.
316505. Pte. Dilworth, R. 286 S.B.A.C. Wounded.
182565. L/Cpl Kirkley, H. 116 S.B.A.C. Died of wounds.

(Note: S.B.A.C. is Siege Battery Ammunition Column)

Keighley News 24th November 1917, page 3:

KEIGHLEY.
Lance-Corporal Harry Kirkley, a native of Keighley, has been killed in action. He leaves a widow and two children. Before enlistment eighteen months ago the late soldier was in the employ of Mr. C. Holdsworth, Netherside Hall.

Craven Herald, 23rd November 1917:

GRASSINGTON – FORMER CHAUFFEUR KILLED
It is with regret that we record the death, in action, of Lance-Corporal Harry Kirkley, of the Motor Transport Service. The deceased, who was a native of Keighley, had lived in Grassington for some time, being employed by Mr. C. Holdsworth, J.P., of Netherside Hall, as chauffeur. He was greatly respected by all who knew him. He joined the forces about 18 months ago, being sent immediately to France. He was daily expecting to be sent home on leave when unfortunately he met his death. He leaves a widow and two little children, with whom much sympathy is felt.
A letter from his superior officer says:– “He died at his post of duty, being struck by the fragment of a shell from the effects of which he never recovered. None of the men of the column, however, were near him or saw him fall. Although I had not the pleasure of knowing him as I should have liked to – having only taken charge of the column a few days ago – I am told by all his fellow N.C.O.s and men that he was trustworthy and reliable in all his duties and a man who could ill be spared from the column. I will do what I can to see that his grave is attended to. Please accept my deepest sympathy in this your heavy loss. Not only on behalf of myself do I write, but also on behalf of his comrades who feel that they have lost in him a brother and a friend.”

Keighley News 5th January 1918, page 3:

KEIGHLEY.
Lance-Corporal Harry Kirkley, Motor Transport Service, of 104 Fell Lane, Keighley, has been killed in action. He joined the forces about eighteen months ago, and was immediately sent to France. Before enlisting he was employed as chauffer by Mr. C. Holdsworth, of Grassington. He leaves a widow and two children.

Trench art, two brass cups made from shell fuse covers.

Trench Art. Two brass cups and a copper letter opener. The names are Allan and Winnie, his children.

Trench Art. One brass cup engraved with four names of battles in the Great War. They are: Somme, Arras, Messines and Ypres.

A piece of brass trench art engraved with names of battles.

Obituary:

This is from a clipping provided by Harry's Great Grandson David Kirkley, no date or source on it, but it must be around December 1917:
Grassington. Former Chauffeur Killed.
It is with regret that we record the death, in action, of Lance Corporal Harry Kirkley, of the Motor Transport Service. The deceased, who was a native of Keighley, had lived in Grassington for some time, being employed by Mr. C. Holdsworth, J.P., of Netherside Hall, as chauffeur. He was greatly respected by all who knew him. He joined the forces about 18 months ago, being sent immediately to France. He was daily expecting to be sent home on leave when unfortunately he met his death. He leaves a widow and two little children, with whom much sypathy is felt. A letter from his superior officer says:- " He died at his post of duty, being struck by the fragment of a shell from the effects of which he never recovered. None of the men of the column, however, were near him or saw him fall. Although I had not the pleasure of knowing him as I should have liked to - having only taken charge of the column a few days ago - I am told by all his fellow N.C.O.'s and men that he was trustworthy and reliable in all his duties and a man who could ill be spared from the column. I will do what I can to see that his grave is attended to. Please accept my deepest sympathy in this your heavy loss. Not only on behalf of myself do I write, but also on behalf of his comrades who feel that they have lost in him a brother and a friend."

Harry's wife Jennie was his next of kin and would have received any personal effects plus Harry's outstanding Army pay less deductions, which according to the soldier's effects records, was £6 15s 0d, sent to her on 4th March 1918.

A woman in a skirt and blouse with a boy standing on the chair behind her and a baby girl in a white dress sitting on the table.

Allan, Jennie and Winifred Kirkley, probably taken in 1917.

A dependant's pension was paid amounting to 25 shillings and 5 pence per week for herself and the two children. The payments began on 27th May 1918. There were also two prior, subsistence payments made to Jennie which were the sum of £5 on 3rd December 1917 and 50 shillings paid on 30th April 1918 to take the allowance up to 26th May 1918.

Remembrance:

Several 'In Memoriam' notices were published in the Craven Herald newspaper on the 8th November 1918, the first anniversary of his death:
KIRKLEY – In loving memory of my dear husband, Lance-Corporal Harry Kirkley, M.T., A.S.C., killed at Ypres, November 8th, 1917.
No one who knew him need ever be told
That a warmer heart death never turned cold,
His loving smile, his cheerful face,
There’s none can fill my husband’s place.
From his loving Wife and little children, Allan and Winnie, Laburnum Cottage, Grassington.

Similar messages of remembrance were also posted from his Brother All (in France) and sister in law and little nephew Harry; also his sorrwing sister Pollie, brother in law and nephew Willie; also his Mother, Father and sisters Maggie and Annie.

Three weeks after this notice was posted, Jennie died on 27th November 1918. She was buried at St Michael and All Angels Church at Linton in Craven.
She had no will and the limited administration was for £96 8s 8d and was sent to Jane Hill (wife of John Hill) on 6th June 1919.

A copper coloured war memorial plaque. It has britannis holding a wreath above a name plaque and a maned lion standing in fornt of her.

Harry Kirkley's bronze war memorial plaque.

Harry's father Thomas was the guardian of Allan and Winifred, Harry and Jennie's two children who were now orphaned. Thomas received a war gratuity on their behalf of £6 on 22nd December 1919 and it's likely he also received Harry's medals, which were the British War Medal and Victory Medal and would have been sent in early 1920, along with the Bronze war memorial plaque and King's Scroll inscribed with Harry's name.
A further tragedy hit the family when Winifred died at the age of six in 1921. This left her brother Allan on his own in the world and in the care of his grandparents.

In the 1921 census taken on 19th June, Allan was recorded living at 104 Fell Lane with his grandparents. At the time he was eight years and three months of age and was a scholar.

Allan married Joyce Dalton in 1937 and they had three sons who were Derek, Donald and David.
Allan, Joyce and Derek were recorded living at 9, Silksby Street in Coventry in the 1939 register. Allan was a surface grinder at an Aero Works.

Allan died in February 1986 aged 72.

Acknowledgement:

All of the photographs of the Kirkley family heirlooms were in the possession of Harry's grandson David Kirkley who in 2007, kindly sent us photographs of everything pertaining to Harry and Jennie and their children. David sadly passed away on 23rd March 2023 aged 71 years.

Information sources:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
National Archives. WO 95/1080/3. War Diary for Corps Siege Park (402 Company A.S.C.)
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
1921 Census Of England & Wales
1939 Register
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
Craven Herald transcription - Courtesy of Craven's Part in the Great War.
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library.
David Kirkley.

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