Kirby L.D.


51653 Private Luther Dixon Kirby, 21st Battalion, the Manchester Regiment was killed in action 24 October 1917 and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.[1]  He was 26 years old and is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial, the Cockfield Methodist memorial plaque and a family headstone in Cockfield cemetery.

Family Details

Luther Dixon Kirby was born 1891[2] at Cockfield, the son of James and Jane Kirby.  There were 8 children, all born at Cockfield:

  • Arthur George bc.1888
  • Alfred Hodgson bc.1890
  • Luther Dixon born.1891
  • Jasper bc.1895
  • Ceay bc.1899
  • Fred bc.1900
  • Septimus Moses bc.1903
  • Thomas Albert bc.1906

In 1901, the family lived at 11 Burnt Houses near Cockfield.  James worked as a colliery blacksmith.  In 1911, they lived at 5 Burnt Houses, James was now a colliery fitter, 23 year old Arthur worked as a stone mason, 21 year old Alfred worked as a coal miner (hewer), 19 year old Luther a pump engineman and 16 year old Jasper was a coal miner (pony driver). [3]  In 1917, Luther married Sarah M. Bowman.[4]

Service Details

Luther Dixon Kirby enlisted at Darlington into the 21st Battalion, the Manchester Regiment being given the regimental number 51653.[5]  The 21st (Service) Battalion (6th City) was formed in Manchester in November 1914.  It landed in France via Boulogne 20 December 1915 and placed under the orders of the 91st Brigade, 30th Division.  In December 1915, it was transferred to the 7th Division.[6]  The 91st Brigade comprised the following units:

  • 20th, Manchester Regiment
  • 21st, Manchester Regiment
  • 22nd, Manchester Regiment
  • 24th, Manchester Regiment [7]

The service record of Private L.D. Kirby and the war diary of 22/Manchesters have not been researched.  It is not known when he enlisted or when he entered France.  Private L.D. Kirby did not enter France before 31 December 1915.[8]  The 7th Division saw action at the Battle of the Somme 1916.  Then in 1917:

  • 14 March-5 April: the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line
  • 3-17 May: the Battle of Bullecourt, which was a Flanking Battle in support of the Battle of Arras and then phases of the Third Battle of Ypres:
  • 26 September-3 October: the Battle of Polygon Wood
  • 4 October: the Battle of Broodseinde
  • 9 October: the Battle of Poelcappelle
  • 26 October-10 November: the Second Battle of Passchendaele [9]

The 21/Manchesters was part of the 91st Brigade, 7th Division, 10th Corps of the Second Army that took part in the Second Battle of Passchendaele.  The battalion lost 107 other ranks 24 October 1917 including Private L.D. Kirby, killed in action and no officers. [10]  This date is prior to the commencement of the battle. Is this date correct?  If so then the 2/Manchesters were involved in a major action which preceded the main show.  Further research is required and the war diary should be examined.

Private L.D. Kirby was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[11]


Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing – Private L.D. Kirby has no known grave and is commemorated on this memorial along with almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are unknown.  The Memorial to the Missing forms the north eastern boundary of the Tyne Cot Cemetery and is one of 4 memorials to those with no known graves in Belgian Flanders.  The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and unveiled in July 1927. [12]

Private L.D. Kirby is commemorated on the family headstone in Cockfield Cemetery – the inscription bears the date 26th October 1917.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.259 Teesdale Q4 1891

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] England & Wales Marriage Index 1915-2005 Vol10a p.427 Teesdale Q2 1917

[5] Soldiers Died in the Great War



[8] Medal Roll card index


[10] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War – is this correct?

[11] Medal Roll card index

[12] Commonwealth war Graves Commission




KIRBY L.D. Inscription Tyne Cot Memorial

Tyne Cot Memorial

KIRBY L.D. Family headstone

Family headstone

KIRBY L.D. Family headstone Inscription

Family headstone


One thought on “Kirby L.D.

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

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