Private Frederick KIRKLAND (M2/104268)
Driver Mechanized Transport, Army Service Corps.
Born: 13 July 1892, Hartsop, Westmorland
Died: 31 March 1918, The Somme, (Age 25)
Frederick Kirkland was born on the 13th July 1892, in Hartsop, he was the youngest of 9 children born to William Kirkland, an agricultural labourer, and his wife Emma (nee Woof). His parents had met when they were both working as servants for Mrs. Dowson at Matterdale End in the early 1870s but had moved to Hesket Newmarket by the time they married in Caldbeck on the 23rd of August 1873. Their time there was short and the family moved back to Matterdale in 1874 and then on to Patterdale around 1885. By the time Frederick was born in 1892, they were living in Hartsop. Fred's father died in September 1896 and is buried in the graveyard at St Patrick's Church, Patterdale. By 1901, Fred, older brother Albert and nephew Percy (the illegitimate son of their sister Mary Ann) were living with their widowed mother at Deepdale Bridge and were attending Patterdale School.
Fred had left home by 1911 and was working as a Horseman at Wreay Farm, Watermillock but later, before the outbreak of war, he got a job driving the mail motor bus which Messrs Taylor Motors Ltd ran between Penrith and Patterdale, so may well have been living with his mother who by then had moved to 25 Duke Street in Penrith.
Probably in response to posters such as the one shown here, Fred enlisted early in the war and with his pre-war experience of driving a motor-bus, joined the Mechanical Transport section of the Army Service Corps. He arrived in France on the 16th July 1915. We know that before he died he was an ambulance driver, presumably motorised, with the 43rd Field Ambulance (Royal Army Medical Corps.) who were attached to the 14th (Light) Division. This would have been quite a specialist role at the time as there was still a great reliance on horse drawn wagons.
We know very little about the circumstances of his wounding or where he died and sadly this was probably the same for his mother (unless she received any unpublished letter from his unit). However, we do know that the 14th (Light) Division were involved in the Battle of St Quentin, part of he German Spring offensive codenamed Operation Michael3 which began on the 21st March 1918. The Division suffered very severe casualties in this battle, losing almost 6,000 troops and the Artillery Brigades lost all of their guns. Ambulances and medics must have been very busy and it seems likely that Fred was wounded whilst transporting casualties from the front line. He died from his wounds on the 31st March 1931 and is buried in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension in Rouen.
Fred had spent over two and a half years in France and as an ambulance driver must have seen some terrible things. His medal card1 shows that he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1915 Star.
He is remembered and commemorated on:
The Patterdale War Memorial
St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France2 (P. IX. I. 8A)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate
What became of his family?
As mentioned above, Fred's father William died on the 6th September 1896, aged 42, and is buried in the graveyard at St Patrick's Church, Patterdale. The last record we can find of his mother Emma, is in Fred's death announcement in the C&W Herald (6 Apr 1918), living at 25, Duke St, Penrith. We have been unable to find any record of her death or even re-marriage.
His only sister Mary Ann was born in Hesket Newmarket around October 1873. Mary Ann gave birth to an illegitimate son, Percy, on the 3rd July 1893. Three years later, on the 9th November 1896, she married James Whitfield, a farm labourer from Lamonby, near Penrith. When the 1901 census was taken Mary Ann and James are living in Wetheral with a 3 year old son William. Her son Percy is living with Mary Ann's mother at Deepdale Bridge. By 1911, the family are in Lamonby and have had two more children (Sarah and George) - interestingly though, Mary Ann records in the 1911 census that she has only had 3 children, so presumably Percy was kept a secret. In 1911, 17 year old Percy is a working as a Footman to a retired Doctor in Kirkby Lonsdale.
Eldest brother John William was born in Matterdale in 1875. He married Sarah Ann Mattinson in 1899 in the Penrith area but by 1901 had moved to Sunderland where he was working as a Police Constable.
Thomas was born in Matterdale in 1879. In 1901 he was living in Sunderland and was also working as a Police Constable.
Joseph served in the Army during WW1 and is remembered on the Roll of Honour - Click Here for further details.
Robinson was born in Matterdale in 1883. He married Eleanor Lilian Johnston Scott in Wigton during 1906. He died at The Kennels, Scotby near Carlisle on the 16th October 1950 aged 67 years.
George was born at Beckstones in Patterdale around January 1886. He married Martha Hayton in 1915 in the Penrith area but died, at the age of 41, in December 1927 still in the Penrith area.
Albert served in the Army during WW1 and is remembered on the Roll of Honour - Click Here for further details.
1. Medal Card for Private Frederick Kirkland, Army Service Corps.
The Victory Medal
To qualify for the Victory medal one had to be mobilised in any service and have entered a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918).
The British War Medal
To qualify for the British War Medal a member of the fighting forces had to leave his native shore in any part of the British Empire while on service. It did not matter whether he/she entered a theatre of war or not.
The 1914-15 Star
The 1914–15 Star was approved in 1918, for issue to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served in any theatre of the War between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915 (other than those who had already qualified for the 1914 Star).
2. St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France.
During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot. A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920. The cemetery extension contains 8,348 Commonwealth burials of the First World War (ten of them unidentified). The extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. More Details
3. Operation Michael
This was a German military operation that began the Spring Offensive on the 21st March 1918. It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. It's goal was to break through the Allied lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and to drive the BEF into the sea. Two days later Ludendorff changed his plan and pushed for an offensive due west, along the whole of the British front north of the River Somme. This was designed to separate the French and British Armies and crush the British forces by pushing them into the sea. The offensive ended at Villers-Bretonneux, to the east of the Allied communications centre at Amiens, where the Entente managed to halt the German advance; the German armies had suffered many casualties and were unable to maintain supplies to the advancing troops. Much of the ground fought over was the wilderness left by the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The action was therefore officially named by the British Battles Nomenclature Committee as The First Battles of the Somme, 1918, whilst the French call it the Second Battle of Picardy (2ème Bataille de Picardie). The failure of the offensive marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. The arrival in France of large reinforcements from the United States replaced Entente casualties but the German Army was unable to recover from its losses before these reinforcements took the field. Operation Michael failed to achieve its objectives and the German advance was reversed during the Second Battle of the Somme, 1918 (21st August – 3rd September) in the Allied Hundred Days Offensive.
Page Editor: Norman Jackson
Page Last Reviewed: 23 Feb 2021