KIRKUP RALPH

RALPH KIRKUP 1891 – 1918

Private Ralph Kirkup, 4th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force died 13 October 1918 and is buried at Meuse-Argonne American Military Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Department de la Meuse, Lorraine, France.  [1] He was 27 years old and is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial.

Family Details

Ralph was born 25 March 1891 at Cockfield,[2] the son of John and Elizabeth Kirkup.  There were at least 5 siblings:[3]

  • Harry bc.1880 in Colorado USA
  • George bc.1883 at Cockfield
  • Jane bc.1886 at Cockfield [died in July 1891]
  • Annie bc.1890 at Cockfield
  • Ralph born 25 March 1891 at Cockfield[4]
  • Gilbert Walker born 12 May 1898 at Cockfield

In 1891, the family lived at Cockfield and John worked as a coal miner [blacksmith].[5]  By 1901, the family is recorded as living at Main Street, Cockfield and John was employed as a coal miner [hewer].[6]

1905: Ralph Kirkup aged 14, is recorded as arriving in the USA.[7]

November 1906: Ralph Kirkup aged 15, arrived at Portal, North Dakota, USA.[8]

By 1911, the Kirkup family are recorded living at Lansdown in the District of Yale and Cariboo, British Columbia, Canada: [9]

  • John aged 57
  • Elisabeth aged 53
  • Annie aged 21
  • Ralph aged 20
  • Gilbert W. aged 13

5 June 1917: Ralph Kirkup was 26 years old, single and lived at South Bayne, Bayne City, Michigan.  He worked as a labourer for W.H. White.[10]  Bayne City was in Charlevoix County, Michigan, USA. [11]

 Military Details

5 June 1917: Ralph Kirkup registered to serve with the US Armed Forces.  At this time, he was 26 years old, single and lived at South Bayne, Bayne City, Michigan.  He worked as a labourer for W.H. White.[12]  It is recorded that he was tall, of stout build, had grey eyes and brown hair.[13]  A press article in the Cherlevoix County Herald dated 21 June 1917 reported that 48 men from Charlevoix County were drafted and going to Camp Custer.[14]

23 July 1918: 2981964 Private R. Kirkup, D Company, 340th Infantry, 85th Division embarked upon the commercial steamer, “Corinthic” at the port of Hoboken, New Jersey.  His brother Harry Kirkup, 8946 102A Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is recorded as his next of kin.[15]

Upon arrival in France, it appears that drafts were organised into reinforcements for Divisions already in action.  Private R. Kirkup was posted to the 4th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Brigade, Third Infantry Division.

“The Third United States Infantry Division was a hodgepodge of army units from posts throughout the US.  Of the 27.714 men and officers comprising the 3rd, the infantry was broken down into the 5th and 6th Brigades and further divided into the 4th and 7th Infantry Regiments as well as the 9th Machine Gun Battalion.  There were artillery units…the 10th Field Artillery Regiment from Arizona …the 76th from Hattiesburg, Mississippi…105mm Artillery Unit from Texas… etc.”[16]

During 1918, amongst other engagements, the Third Infantry Division saw action:

12 – 16 September 1918: The St. Mihiel Offensive.

26 September – 11 November 1918: The Meuse-Argonne Offensive. [17]

Further details are provided below:

“On July 18th the Allies began the operation known as the Aisne-Marne Offensive, its immediate purpose being the reduction of the Château-Thierry salient.  In this operation, the division attacked across the Marne east of Château-Thierry and advanced northeast to the Curcq.  Jaulgonne was entered on July 22nd; le Charmel offered stubborn resistance and was only captured on July 25th after four days bitter fighting.  The Curcq was reached on the 26th and Ronchéres was taken on the 28th.  The division was relieved on July 30th by the 32rd Division and assembled south of Château-Thierry.  On August 2nd, the 6th Brigade was detached to support the 3rd French Army Corps operating towards the Vesle.  It was relieved from this duty on August 10th and re-joined the division which had gone into rest area near Gondrecourt.”[18]

It is unlikely that Private R. Kirkup would have been involved here.  The History continues:

“On September 4, the division proceeded to the Vauculeurs area preparatory to taking part in the St. Mihiel Offensive.  In this operation it was in the reserve of the 4th Army Corps.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive started on September 26. The division passed into the 5th Army Corps on September 29, and on September 30 relieved the 79th Division in front line.  On October 12 it passed into the 3rd Army Corps.  For 27 days the division was continuously in front line during which period it advanced 7 kilometers against organized defences, encountering particularly strong resistance in taking Bois de Cunel and Hill 299.  The division was relieved on October 27 by the 5th Division and proceeded to the Tannois rest area.

During operations the division took 2,240 prisoners; its casualties totalled 16,117.”[19]

13 October 1918: Private Ralph Kirkup died.[20]  It is likely that he died in the early hours of the Divisions entry into action of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  He was 27 years old.

An account on the battle is given by Stephen Coode:

“11 October brought renewed American attacks that, while no immediate materials signs [gains?] were made, continued to further demoralize, strain and exhaust a retreating German Army.  American lines were improved and prisoners taken: interrogation reports determined that entire regiments of the German Army were dissipating in the face of the American onslaught.  By the morning of 12 – 13 October the 3rd ID had secured a line from Cirges-Romagne Road to a position very near the Meuse River.”

In conclusion, the AEF’s achievements were:

“After 47 days of intense combat involving over one million American troops, suffering 117,000 casualties, the Americans pushed back 43 German divisions over a distance of 30 miles, capturing over 400 enemy guns and killing or wounding over 120,000 German troops…

A total of 9,469, 982 Americans would serve during the war: the US suffered 116,516 deaths and another 204,002 casualties.  53,402 were battle deaths and more than 63,000 deaths were categorized as “other deaths”.[21]     

Burial

2981964 Private Ralph Kirkup is buried at Meuse-Argonne American Military Cemetery and Memorial, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Department de la Meuse, Lorraine, France.[22]

Commemorations

2981964 Private Ralph Kirkup is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial.

 Note:

Ralph’s younger brother Gilbert served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

13 April 1916: Gilbert Walker Kirkup lived at Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada and enlisted into the 196 O/S Battalion, Western Universities aged 17 years 11 months when a High School student, attending the School Cadet Corps.  He was allocated the regimental number 911832, entered France in April 1917, was posted to the CEF Machine Gun Brigade and was promoted to the rank of sergeant.  He was discharged 22 April 1919.

REFERENCES:

[1] In the Global, Find a Grave Index for Burials at Sea and other Select Burial Location 1300s – Current

[2] Ancestry family tree

[3] 1891 & 1901 census

[4] Ancestry Family Tree, US Army Registration Card & England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index 1837 – 1915 Q2 1891 Teesdale Vol.10a p.301

[5] 1891 census

[6] 1901 census

[7] US Index to Alien Arrivals at Canadian Atlantic and Pacific Seaports 1901-1944

[8] Border Crossings from Canada to USA 1895-1956

[9] 1911 Census of Canada

[10] US Army Registration Card dated 5 June 1917

[11] Press report and Ancestry family tree

[12] Registration Card dated 5 June 1917

[13] Registrar’s Report A21-6-3 dated 5 June 1917

[14] Charlevoix County Herald dated 21 June 1917 Vol.22 No.25

[15] Passenger List, “Corinthic” dated 23 July 1918

[16] “The American Expeditionary Force in World War 1: The Rock of the Marne” MA thesis East Tennessee State University May 2008 Stephen Coode p.10 & 11

[17] “Brief History of Divisions, US Army 1917-18” Historical Branch, War Plans Division, General Staff June 1921 p.9

[18] “Brief History of Divisions, US Army 1917-18” Historical Branch, War Plans Division, General Staff June 1921 p.7

[19] “Brief History of Divisions, US Army 1917-18” Historical Branch, War Plans Division, General Staff June 1921 p.6

[20] We do not know if he was killed in action or died of wounds

[21] “The American Expeditionary Force in World War 1: The Rock of the Marne” MA thesis East Tennessee State University May 2008 Stephen Coode p.66 & 67.  The other deaths were from influenza [Spanish Flu].

[22] In the Global, Find a Grave Index for Burials at Sea and other Select Burial Location 1300s – Current

PHOTOGRAPHS:

KIRKUP Ralph
Headstone

Meuse Argonne American Cemetery

Newspaper article

One thought on “KIRKUP RALPH

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s