QSA (3) Transvaal, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (6411 Pte. W. Kirk. W. Riding Regt.);
1914 Star, with clasp (6411 Pte. W. Kirk. 2/W. Rid: R.);
BWM and VM (6411 Pte. W. Kirk. W. Rid. R.)
William Kirk was born in 1877 at Lincoln, and resided in Undercliffe, Yorkshire. He attested for the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment at Bradford, Yorkshire in June 1900 and served with the 1st Battalion in South Africa during the Boer War from 31 May 1901 to 27 March 1902 (QSA with 3 clasps). This was followed by 4 years in India with the 2nd Battalion and, having extended his terms of service in 1904 to complete 8 years with the colours, he was transferred to the reserve in 1908.
Mobilized from the reserve at Halifax on 5 August 1914 following the outbreak of war, he served with the 2nd Battalion on the Western Front from 11 September 1914. The 2nd West Riding saw action in the attack on Violaines (22 October 1914) during the Battle of La Bassée, and then moved through Ypres on 5 November. They were next engaged in a fierce attack near Hermitage Chateau to regain lost trenches before moving to new positions at the Veldoek Chateau on 10 November - the woods of these two old estates being separated by the Ypres-Menin Road.
The enemy then attacked in force the following morning at about 8 am; Major E. G. Harrison kept a diary which noted:
‘Exceptionally heavy shelling started 7 a.m., practically all shrapnel, covering the whole position from the firing line to the reserves, continuing the bombardment till 8 a.m., when it abated. At this time a message came to me by an orderly from Lieut. R. O. D. Carey, saying, “Am very hard pressed but will hang on as long as possible.” I then advanced with the remainder of my force. We found the Germans had advanced past the Veldoek Chateau, but we managed to repulse them, gaining back the ground, being nearly as far as our old firing line, which Lieut. R. O. D. Carey with D Company had been driven out of. We could have actually regained these trenches if the troops on the right and left of us had been up.’
The battalion had suffered casualties between 5 and 15 November of 7 officers and approximately 380 other ranks with Private Kirk being among those killed in action. Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
QSA (5) Rhodesia, Relief of Mafeking, O.F.S., Trans., SA01 (Lieut. A. N. White, W. Rid. Regt.).
The catalogue notes:
Probably unique to the W. Riding Regt. Verified PRO WO/100/186; Born 17.4.71; Served in Rhodesia Regt. Gazetted 2/Lt. in the 1/Bn. W. Rid. Regt. on 19.5.1900 (2 days after Mafeking). Served with 22nd M.I. Seconded King's African Rifles 6.6.02.
QSA (3) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal (Lieut. H. J. L. Oakes. W. Rid. Rgt.), lacquered and cabinet toned, very fine
Purchased Spink, November 1978.
Ex-Lovell Collection, Sotheby's.
Henry James Lionel Oakes was born on 30 April 1879, was educated at Rugby and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the West Riding Regiment on 20 May 1899, joining the 2nd Battalion in Burma. Oakes was transferred to the 1st Battalion in order to join the campaign in South Africa. Landing at Cape Town on 20 January 1900, he was promoted Lieutenant on 25 February 1900.
Oakes was severely wounded at Rhenoster Kop on 29 November 1900. Steve Watt and the Casualty roll say he died of wounds but this is incorrect. He appears to have died in 1944 in Suffolk.