Kirby B.

BERIE KIRBY (1893-1918)

388253 Private Bertie Kirby, 2nd (Northumbrian) Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps died 1 October 1918 and is buried at Sarigol Military Cemetery, Kriston, Salonika, Greece.[1]  He was 25 years old and is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial, the memorial plaque in the Cockfield Methodist Church and the Roll of Honour, Cockfield Council School.

Family Details

Bertie Kirby was born 7 September 1893 [2] at Cockfield, the son of Thomas and Annie Kirby.  There were 5 children, all born at Cockfield:

  • Ernest H. bc.1891
  • Bertie born 1893
  • Minnie bc.1896
  • George Harrison bc.1898
  • Herbert William bc.1901

The family lived at 15 Burnt Houses near Cockfield.  Thomas worked as a coal miner (hewer).[3]  Bertie went to Cockfield Church of England School before attending Cockfield Council School between 14 January 1907 and 1 September 1907 when he left once attaining the leaving age of 14 years. [4] Thomas Kirby died c.1905. [5]  By 1911, Annie appears to have married William Woodward (c.1907) and they had 2 children, both born at Cockfield:

  • Thomas William bc.1908
  • Albert bc.1910

The family lived at 7 Mayfield Terrace, Cockfield with a boarder, William Moffatt a 17 year old coal miner.  William was a coal miner (labourer), 20 year old Ernest was a coal miner (hewer) and 17 year old Bertie was a coal miner (brakesman on an underground incline). [6]

Service Details

Bertie Kirby volunteered into the Territorial Force 6 October 1914 and joined the 2nd (Northumbrian) Field Ambulance being given the regimental number 1671.[7] At some time later he was given the regimental number 388253.[8]   When he enlisted, he was 21 years old, 5ft.6” tall and underwent a medical examination 6 October 1914 and was considered “fit for the Territorial Force”.[9]  He disembarked at Le Havre 10 January 1915 [10] with the British Expeditionary Force and served in France until 25 November 1915.  He then joined the Mediterranean Force from 26 November 1915 to 13 November 1916 and finally, the British Salonika Force serving the period 14 November 1916 to 1 October 1918.  Private B. Kirby served a total of 3 years 361 days.[11]

Whilst he served with the 2nd (Northumbrian) Field Ambulance, he was attached to the 66th Field Ambulance.[12]  The 2nd (Northumberland) Field Ambulance was transferred to the 28th Division and re-designated 86th (2nd Northumbrian) Field Ambulance in December 1914.  The 66th Field Ambulance was part of the 22nd Division.  Private B. Kirby saw action in Belgium and France with the 86th Field Ambulance and in Salonika with both the 86th Field Ambulance serving with the 28th Division and the 66th Field Ambulance serving with the 22nd Division.  The date he transferred from the 86th to the 66th is not known.

The 2nd Northumbrian Field Ambulance, RAMC was part of the Northumbrian Division in the Territorial Force.  They had just gone for their summer camp when war broke out and so were recalled to their home base.  The 2nd Northumbrian Field Ambulance was transferred from the 50th Division to the 28th Division in December 1914 and were later re-designated 86th (2nd Northumbrian) Field Ambulance.

The 86th Field Ambulance proceeded to France via Le Havre between 16 and 19 January 1916 and was in action in the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April-25 May 1915) and the Battle of Loos (25 September-8 October 1915) .

24 October 1915 the first units left Marseilles for Alexandria in Egypt and all units arrived by 23 November 1915.  They went onto Salonika 4 January 1916.  Later in the year the 28th Division was in action during the occupation of Mazirko and the capture of Barakli Jum’a.  [13]

Private B. Kirby was in Salonika by 27 January 1916.[14]  Both the 66th and 86th Field Ambulance serving with the 22nd and 28th Divisions saw action in Salonika theatre e.g. the 22nd Division took part in the Battle of Doiran, 24-25 April and 8-9 May 1917 and was involved in the Battle of Doiran, 18-19 September 1918.

Hostilities with Bulgaria ceased when the Armistice with Bulgaria was signed 30 September 1918. The 22nd Division lost 7,728 men killed, wounded and missing during the war but vastly larger numbers suffered with malaria, dysentery and other diseases rife in the Salonika theatre. [15]

Private B. Kirby died from pneumonia and influenza 1 October 1918 in No.21 Stationary Hospital.[16]

He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory medals.[17]


Private B. Kirby is buried at grave reference A.7, Sarigol Military Cemetery, Kriston, Salonika, Greece.  The following words are inscribed on his headstone:

Remembered by all who loved him,

Death divides but memory clings

There are 682 WW1 Commonwealth burials here.  The 21st and 35th Stationary Hospitals operated in the area from April 1917 to December 1918. Another soldier from Cockfield to be laid to rest here is Gunner J.W. Ellerton, buried at grave reference A.28.  [18]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Cockfield Council School Admissions Register

[3] 1901 census

[4] Cockfield Council School Admissions Register

[5] England & Wales Death Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.192 Teesdale 1905 Q1

[6] 1911 census

[7] Army Form E.501

[8] CWGC

[9] Army Form B.178

[10] Army Form B.103 Casualty Form-Active Service

[11] Military History Sheet

[12] CWGC


[14] Army Form B.103 Casualty Form-Active Service


[16] Statement of Services

[17] Military History Sheet Note: Medal Roll records award of 2 medals.

[18] CWGC


Thanks to Martin Gibson, Alan Wakefield and members of the Salonika Campaign Society and Minas and his daughter for taking the time and trouble to photograph Bertie’s grave.









One thought on “Kirby B.

  1. Pingback: COCKFIELD | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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