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WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

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WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby phsvm » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:11 am

My grandfather Joseph Blake Kirby was born in Birmingham in 1876. His birth is registered with his middle name of Blake. There is another Joseph Kirby whose birth is also registered in Birmingham in Sept 1875.

Both appear on census returns with Joseph Blake listed with year of birth as 1877 and Joseph listed as year of birth as 1876 - in other words both with they year following their actual year of birth. I say this to avoid confusion as to which one I am trying to trace. It is Joseph BLAKE Kirby - Blake being his mother's maiden name.

When Joseph Blake was very young the family returned to Oxfordshire and all census returns show him living in Dorchester on Thames with his parents, John and Jane and subsequently his wife Adeline.

Having been in the building trade Joseph went on to found his own building company employing a number of workers. Family folk lore says that one of those he employed was his 'batman'. One of my aunts, born 1 Jan 1916, always maintained that after her birth her father didn't see her for 2 years, the implication being that he was serving in WW1. The next child wasn't born until the end of 1920 so there is some evidence to support the theory that Joseph wasn't with his family for some years.

However, beyond that no one in the family has any idea where he was or what he did during WW1. I have been unable to trace any military records for him.

Can anyone do better than me or make an suggestions as to how to break down this brick wall?
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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby brunes08 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:33 pm

If he had his own building company perhaps you could find some evidence from the local trade directories, such as Kelly's. I have been able to track family business in these covering a period of several years which helped to build up a picture of the family. You might also find advertisements in local newspapers.
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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby phsvm » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:41 pm

I've got plenty of info about the business and the family but nothing about his years during WW1 which is what I'm trying to find out about.
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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:15 pm

You need to find his unit and see what his unit was doing. In the absence of any medals or press cuttings (even medals don't always help), the best bet is to see if he appears in any Absent Voters List (for 1918 to 1919 or 1920) - not the normal Electoral Register but the one specifically designed to list soldiers, etc (and some railwaymen!) who had a "postal vote" and to list their unit. As you presumably know his permanent address (he said hopefully!), there should be no confusion with the other guy.

I'd start by finding the constituency then go to the electoral registers / AVLs on FMP (I think the AVLs are in their own, browseable set) but be warned - AVLs don't always survive.
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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby peter kent » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:31 am

One of my aunts, born 1 Jan 1916, always maintained that after her birth her father didn't see her for 2 years


You need to get the birth certificate. The father's occupation shown on the certificate may contain valuable pointers to any military record.
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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby peter kent » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:13 am

Also see the Reading Mercury 3 Nov 1917.

Joseph B Kirby appealed unsuccessfully against military service.
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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:23 am

Interesting - he's getting on a bit. One might wonder if he got outside the UK by 11-11-18 then. If he didn't, then no medals and so no appearance in the Index Cards or Rolls.

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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby phsvm » Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:42 pm

I've been 'off site' for a while so have only just seen the last two responses.

Thank you both for your comments. I'll have to scour the Berkshire and Oxfordshire press to see if I can find ny other references to him (beyond those relating to the building firm).
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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby JaneyH » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:35 am

I'd also recommend getting the birth certificate of the child born in 1916.

In my case I was trying to trace the alleged army service of my great-grandfather. Detailed searches of medal index cards and rolls had proved fruitless (and not just my searching but by some of the experts on here). However the birth certificate of a child born during WW1 listed my great-grandfather's occupation as "Private, Gloucestershire Regiment, and coal hewer" which was the first firm link to military service. I've subsequently obtained his army pension records from the Western Front Association which, in turn, has unlocked other lines of research.


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Re: WW1 service record for Joseph Blake Kirby

Postby phsvm » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:17 am

I don't think the birth certificate for the 1916 birth would help as he seems to avoided military service until November 1917 when there is a newspaper report of his appeal against being 'called up' was rejected.

I know from other sources that he was running his own builing firm prior to 1914. It's just a question of finding out what happened to him between November 1917 and the birth of his daughter born in December 1920.
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