Next of kin plaque : Lance Corporal Richard Norman Kirby, 20th Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL48057
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made c 1921-1922
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Bronze next of kin plaque, showing on the obverse, Britannia holding a laurel wreath, the British lion, dolphins, a spray of oak leaves and the words 'HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR' around the edge. Beneath the main figures, the British lion defeats the German eagle. The initials 'ECP', for the designer Edward Carter Preston appear above the lion's right forepaw. A raised rectangle above the lion's head bears the name 'RICHARD NORMAN KIRBY'.

History / Summary

Born in Dubbo, New South Wales, of indigenous descent, Richard Norman Kirby was employed as a labourer at Quambone near Coonamble when he enlisted in the AIF on 23 July 1915. After training in Dubbo and Sydney he was posted a private, service number 2305, to the 4th Reinforcements for 20th Battalion. He embarked for overseas service from Sydney on 30 September, aboard HMAT A8 Argyllshire.

Kirby joined A Company of his battalion at Gallipoli on 12 November. He had probably already contracted typhoid fever when the battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli but it was only formally diagnosed at Mudros at the end of December. Kirby remained there for treatment, returning to Egypt at the beginning of February 1916. He relapsed soon afterwards and was hospitalised until 7 May, after his battalion had left Egypt for service in France.

Travelling via England Kirby finally rejoined his battalion at Warloy, France, as one of his company's Lewis gunners. He served though the rest of the year and 1917 without incident. He was promoted lance corporal on 22 May. In July 1918 Kirby received a minor wound to the nose at Vaire Wood. He was wounded in the head at Rainecourt on 11 August and evacuated to 53rd (British Casualty clearing Station. From there he was sent to the 9th United States General Hospital at Rouen, where he died on 20 August, aged 27. He is buried in the St Sever Cemetery Extension in Rouen.

For his actions on 11 August Kirby was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citation for the award reads: 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an attack on RAINECOURT, on 11th August, 1918. He rushed a machine gun post single-handed, and, although wounded in the attempt, succeeded in capturing and holding two machine guns and fourteen of the enemy until the remainder of his section came up. He set a fine example of courage and initiative to the men with him.'

This commemorative plaque was sent to Kirby's widowed mother, Kathleen (also Catherine), in October 1922. His father had died after he enlisted in 1915. Two of Kirby's elder brothers, George and Robert, also served, both in 54th Battalion. They survived the war.