Lance Bombardier Richard Charles Kirk
Service No: 6962933
55th Field Regt, Royal Artillery
Attached to Guards Armoured Division
Richard Charles Kirk grew up in the Eastend of London before joning the
London Royal Fusiliers, a Territorial Regiment, in 1938.
By 1939 War threatened and Richard was called to arms and was stationed at
St.Catherines Dock, working as a pay clerk before guarding the Tower of
London. Soon enough the Luftwaffe came and hence the "Blitz" was on. Richard
joined the many who became Air Raid Wardens and assisted the evacuation of
civilians from the bombings and helped fight the fierce fires round the
docks and central London. But as the war progressed the Army took to
training the people of Britain for the eventual Allied invasion of Europe.
Richard began his fulltime training at Stanmore when on exercise he
sustained a head injury in a Lorry Accident which landed him in Hospital. Im
sure, knowing him, that the injury was minor compared to the grief he would
have given the Nursing staff, and he was subsequently treated at Woodford
Green, Enfield chase and St. Bartholomews before returning to duty.
Upon his return he was transferred from the Fusiliers into the Royal
Artillery. His training took place in Norfolk and on the Salisbury Plains.
Richard was good at Maths and soon earned recognition gaining him
responsibilities issuing petrol and learning to range find on the big
artillery pieces. You have to bear in mind that the War rationed everything,
so a simple sounding task like the issue of fuel was actually a very precise
The training began to take direction. The impending invasion, although
secret, was structured with each man knowing his role in the offensive.
Richard spent time learning to drive tanks and practiced beach assaults with
armoured vehicles being driven on and off Amphibious Landing craft.
On 6th June 1944, the Allied Forces returned to the coast of France and so
started D-Day. The British forces had been repelled from the same coastline
4 years earlier and it was going to be a hard slog through a few countries
inorder to defeat the enemy. Richard landed at Sword Beach on D-Day plus 2
and the push began. At that time, Elements of the Royal Artillery were
amalgamated into the Guards Armoured Division, and it was this mass of
armour that supported the Infantry in its struggle through the fields and
towns as the Allies began to build a frontline so that supplies and landing
points could be secured. Towns and villages were recaptured, and it was at
Caens that Richard first saw and tasted the brutality of war.
By design, Richard's Artillery and Armoured brigades were present and
supportive in the famous battles and operations throughout the drive to the
Rhine. The Guards Armoured Division participated at Arnhem in Operation
Market Garden and Also The Battle of the Bulge towards the end of 1944. The
war took Richard and his comrades through France, Holland and Belgium before
reaching the Rhine. He was one of the lucky ones who survived the war, but
not without injury as he was struck by shrapnel when the leading tank was
destroyed by a landmine on a bridge over the Rhine. Unfortunatley, a friend
of his who he knew from home was killed in the same incident and probably
the worst part of it was that the War ended just a few days later.
The Allies remained in Germany after the war, as did Richard. He returned
home and was demobbed from the Army in april 1946. He stayed on National
Reserve until 1965.
SERVICE RECORD says:
"He has served with the Battery since January 1942 and was employed in a
capacity requiring accuracy, speed and a knowledge of mathematics at which
he proved himself the most efficent. A capable man who has given invaluable
assistance in the Quartermasters Stores in a position of trust for the past
nine months and during a very difficult period. He has a most pleasant
manner, is well dressed and thoroughly honest, sober and trustworthy. A
popular member of the Battery who has given every satisfaction".
Richard was my Grandfather. He never really spoke about his time in the
service or the war although I remember him being interested in memorials
such as D-Day rememberance. If I had to quote him it would not be overly
pleasant as he said to me once, "I remember my friends guts falling out of
his body and me shitting myself from fear. I was being shot at by a sniper".
There are more photos of him and others he served with on a small site: