Passchendaele soldier remembered

By Ross Gazette reporter in Local People

Villagers have marked the centenary of the death of a young soldier who was killed at the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele.

Private Samuel Kirby, was only 24 when he died. He has no descendants to remember him, but in Kempley, the village where he was born and bred, his death on August 5th, 1917 was commemorated 100 years to the day, on Saturday.

Villagers came together under a lowered flag at the village memorial to place flowers, read poems and share the little information that is known about Sam’s short life.

The occasion was made all the more poignant by the presence of Jane Evans, who recently moved to the village, and whose grandfather survived Passchendaele.

Records show that Samuel was one of at least five children, and worked as a farm labourer before joining the Duke of Edinburgh’s Wiltshire Regiment in 1916. He enlisted at Gloucester and served with the 1st Battalion in Flanders.

Samuel was killed in action and his remains were unrecoverable. He is one of the 54,000-plus servicemen whose names are recorded on the Menin Gate at Ypres, Belgium, and whose graves are unknown.

He is also remembered, as one of the Nine Sons of Kempley who lost their lives in both world wars, on the memorial stone which was unveiled in the village in 2014, and has been the focus of several commemorations since.

Sam Kirby’s centenary commemoration was convened by Kempley resident, Chris Bligh, the publisher of website, a community project that aims to explore the impact of the First World War and its legacy for the area around Dymock, while encouraging an interest in local and family history.

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