Kirby E.O.


6/4012 Private Edwin Augustus Oliver, 1/6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry died 1 May 1916 and is buried at Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.[1]  He was 28 years old and is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial as Edwin O. Kirby.

Family Details

Edwin was born c.1888 in Lynesack and was the son of William and Sarah Kirby [nee Oliver, born 1865 at Woodland].  There were 3 children:

  • Edwin bc. 1887 at Lynesack
  • Mary Elizabeth bc.1890 at Cockfield
  • Elizabeth bc.1891 at Cockfield

In 1891, the family lived at Cockfield.  William was a coal miner [bc.1863 at Overdinsdale in Teesdale].  His family had lived at Hurworth being weavers and agricultural labourers for almost 200 years before moving to Cockfield about 1865.  Also recorded on the census was 15 year old Elizabeth Ann Oliver, William’s sister-in-law who would become his second wife in 1902 – 6 months after the death of her sister Sarah. [Edwin’s mother].

In 1901, the family lived at Cockfield.  13 year old Edwin was a coal miner.  His second sister Elizabeth is not recorded.

The 1911 census records 23 year old Edwin working as a coal miner [hewer] and living with his father William and his second wife 34 year old sister Elizabeth Ann.  There were 5 children from this 2nd marriage:

  • Thomas William bc. 1902
  • John bc. 1904
  • Eva bc. 1907
  • Percy bc. 1908
  • Albert bc.1910

 Service Details

The service record and war diary of the 1/6th battalion, the Durham Light Infantry have not been researched.

The 1/6th Battalion were formed in Bishop Auckland in August 1914 as part of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade, Northumbrian Division and in May 1915 became the 151st Brigade of the 50th Division.[8] The Division moved to France 16 April 1915 and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war. Other battalions were:

  • 1/7th Battalion, D.L.I
  • 1/8th Battalion, D.L.I.
  • 1/9th Battalion, D.L.I.
  • 1/5th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancs. joined June 1915

Following heavy casualties in June 1915, the Second Battle of Ypres, the battalion merged with the 1/8th to become the 6/8th then it returned to its original identity 11 August 1915 and was then joined by:

  • 1/5th (Cumberland) Battalion, the Border Regiment joined December 1915
  • 151st Machine Gun Company formed 6 February 1916
  • 150th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 June 1916 [9]

6/4012 Private E.A. Oliver entered France 1 October 1915.[10]

The Quiet Front-Kemmel and Armentieres: 1915 [11]

  • 1-4 October 1915: billets at Houplines
  • 5 October: relieved 8/DLI in trenches 81,82 & 83
  • 14 October: relieved by 7/DLI
  • 14-19 October: billets at Armentieres
  • 19-26 October: relieved 7/DLI at trenches 84-87
  • 26-30 October: billets at Armentieres
  • 30 October-7 November: relieved 8/DLI in trenches 81-83
  • 7-9 November: billets at Armentieres

During the period 1 October – 9 November 1915, 1/6 DLI lost 8 Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds.[12]   No officers were lost.[13]

Return to the Salient-Sanctuary Wood-the Bluff-Hill 60: 1915-1916 [14]

  • 10 November – 17 December: training at La Maison Blanche near Bailleul
  • 18 December: relieved 6/Royal Scots in reserve positions at Maple Copse, Ypres Salient
  • 19-20 December: heavy German bombardment, north of Hooge and Sanctuary Wood. X Company lost 6 men killed and 12 wounded.
  • 21 December: Captain R.B. Bradford MC was transferred from 7/DLI and became Battalion Adjutant.[15]
  • 23 December: relieved by 5/Border Regiment. During this period in the trenches the total casualties was 1 officer and 8 ORs killed and 1 officer and 45 ORs wounded.[16]
  • 23-27 December: huts at Dickebusch
  • 28-30 December: relieved 5/Borders in trenches A7 – A12
  • 31 December-3 January 1916: Brigade Reserve. R.B. Bradford left the battalion to take up the appointment of 151 Brigade Major.
  • 2 January 1916: draft of 50 men received
  • 4-9 January: relieved 5/Borders in trenches A7-A12
  • 10-13 January: back to Dickebusch. Casualties remained low.
  • 13-17 January: at the front, 15 January: a draft of 67 men received, 17 January: heavy bombardment
  • 17-21 January: relieved by 5/Borders
  • 21-25 January: at trenches A7-A12 relieved by 5/Borders

This sequence was repeated until 4 April 1916 when the battalion moved to Mont des Cats.  During this period, 10 November 1915 to 4 April 1916, 6/DLI lost 1 officer and 45 ORs killed in action or died of wounds.[17]

Mont des Cats-Vierstraat-Kemmel: 1916 [18]

8 April 1916: took over trenches N3 – O4, the Bois Carre and Brasserie defences…….

20/21 April: night, the 6/DLI

“..relieved the 9th Battalion in N to O trenches.  The Germans commenced a bombardment of Battalion Headquarters, near Brasserie.  Sergeant W. O’Dair, Orderly Room Sergeant was severely wounded.  Private Ryder, stretcher bearer dressed his wounds and took him to the dressing station.  There were nine casualties in total.  The Canadians lost almost all of the gains at St. Eloi in severe fighting on the 21st April.  The enemy continued to shell Bois Carre and M, N and O Trenches, as part of this counter action.  This heavy shelling continued the next day, with British artillery countering with vigour.  The Battalion was relieved by the 7th Battalion…….on the 24th of the month, an intensive training programme was commenced which was to last until the 8th of May.” [19]

6/4012 Private E.A. Oliver died 1 May 1916.  It seems likely that he was one of the wounded of the German shelling 21/22 April and died of his wounds.

Private E.A. Oliver was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[20]


Private E.A. Oliver id buried at grave reference III.B.8, Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.  His headstone has the following inscription:

“Thy will be done”

The cemetery contains 2874 burials from WW1.  St. Omer was the HQ of the BEF from October 1914 to March 1916.  There was a concentration of hospitals here – 4,7,9 & 10th Canadian and New Zealand Stationary Hospitals, 7, 58, 59 General Hospitals, 17,18, 1st 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing stations.[21]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorated as the son of William Kirby 13 Model Terrace, Cockfield, Co. Durham

Family details from the 1891, 1901 & 1911 census have been provided by a family member which rectify assumptions incorrectly made.  Amended 7 February 2017. The settlement of Overdinsdale in Teesdale is given as the place of birth for William – I suggest that this may be Low Dinsdale to the immediate north of the river Tees, south of Darlington and east of Hurworth.


[9] the details do not include events after May 1916

[10] Medal Roll card index

[11] “The Faithful Sixth: a history of the 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry” Harry Moses 1995 p.44-49

[12] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[13] Officers Died in the Great War

[14] Moses p.50-59

[15] Capt. R.B. Bradford was to win the VC on the Somme when commanding the 9/DLI 1 October 1916 and in late 1917 became the youngest Brigadier General in the British Army at the age of 25 years.  He was killed at Cambrai 30 November 1917. Moses p.51&52

[16] Moses p.52

[17] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[18] Moses p.60-67

[19] Moses p.60 & 61

[20] Medal Roll card index

[21] Commonwealth War Graves Commission


OLIVER E.A. Commemerative Plaque

OLIVER E.A. Commemorative Plaque

OLIVER E.A. Headstone


OLIVER E.A Medal Roll

Medal Roll

One thought on “Kirby E.O.

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

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