Wilfred Kirk

wilfred kirkPrivate, 31646, 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, killed in action, 4th October 1917, aged 19

Born at Belton in 1898, Wilfred was the eldest of seven children of Arthur and Alice Kirk. His father, a farm horseman, was from Belton and his mother from Hatfield. By 1911 the family had moved to Sandtoft Plains Farm, Medge Hall where Wilfred, then aged 13, worked alongside his father as a farm labourer. When he enlisted in the army at Retford, post 1915, the family were said to be living in Crowle although this could mean Medge Hall.

The 1st Lincoln’s were not involved in the early exchanges of the Third Battle of Ypres. They had moved up for the Battle of Menin Road in September following which they went out of the front line. They were brought forward again for the Battle of Broodseinde where their objective would be the German positions on the ridge east of Zonnebeke close to Polygon Wood.

On the evening of 3rd October whilst the 1st Lincoln’s were moving into position the weather that had been fine for the past few days broke. A heavy gale and rain blew up from the south-west, and the soldiers would now have to combat the mud and weather as much as the German army. It took them over two and a half hours to cover the less than four miles to their starting point.

Shortly after he attack began at 6.00am the next morning, 4th October, the 1st Lincoln’s encountered another problem. One of the British guns firing covering salvos began firing short, which injuring several men. Two hundred yards further in a machine gun in a pill-box (about three hundred yards north-east of Joist Farm and just in front of Juniper Trench) inflicted more casualties and for his bravery in leading the attempt to silence it Lt Colonel Evans was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The attack on the ridge lasted around two hours before the Lincoln’s were successful in taking the position. Their casualties that day were 29 killed, 179 wounded and 38 missing, among whom was Wilfred Kirk. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Wilfred is not commemorated on Crowle War Memorial but he is remembered on Belton War Memorial.