Kirk, Thomas Leonard (No. 1465494)

Kirk, Thomas Leonard King (Lennie)

Sergeant

No. 1465494, 5 Battery, 2 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

Died as the result of enemy action on Friday 5 December 1941 (aged 27)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Alamein Memorial, Egypt (Column 31)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

First Newtownards Presbyterian Church

BIOGRAPHY

Thomas Leonard King (Lennie) Kirk was born on 7 July 1914 and he was the youngest son of Hugh and Maud Kirk (nee McKellar) of 28 Ann Street and later Chapel View, Newtownards.  Hugh Kirk and Maud McKellar were married on 11 December 1902 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  Hugh Kirk was a son of William Kirk, a merchant.  Maud McKellar was a daughter of Sergeant Major James McKellar.

Hugh Kirk declared himself to be an agnostic and he and Maud Kirk had three children:

William (born 13 August 1903 in Francis Street, Newtownards)

Hugh Gerald Griffin (Gerry, born 11 August 1905 in Francis Street, Newtownards)

Thomas Leonard (born 7 July 1914 in Chapel View, Ann Street, Newtownards)

Hugh Kirk owned two shops in Newtownards, one a tobacconist and confectionery shop and the other an antiquarian shop.  Locally, Hugh’s nickname was Anti Que.  Amongst other things, Hugh Kirk collected books, weapons and flint implements and after his death some items from his collection went to museums in Belfast and Dublin.  Hugh Kirk was a close friend of the geographer and archaeologist Emyr Estyn Evans and in honour of his friend Hugh gave his son Lennie the forename King (Emyr in Welsh).

Prior to the outbreak of war, Lennie Kirk worked as an engineer and he and Jessie Morrison were married on 9 July 1938 in Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church.  They lived at 33 South Street, Newtownards and had one child – a daughter named Margaret who never saw her father.

Lennie Kirk enlisted before the outbreak of war and he served with 5 Battery, 2 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.  On 5 December 1941 he was posted as ‘missing, believed drowned in the Mediterranean Sea’ and some six months later it was officially confirmed that he ‘must now be presumed killed’.  Lennie Kirk had developed a severe case of furuncles (boils) and was being transported out of Tobruk, Libya with other ill and injured soldiers aboard HMS Chakdina in Convoy TA.1/M.  HMS Chakdina was a passenger ship built in 1914 by Ramage and Ferguson, Leith, Scotland, and she was owned by the British India Steam Navigation Company.  In 1940 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and used as an Armed Boarding Vessel.  At around 9.00 pm on 5 December 1941, HMS Chakdina was hit by a torpedo fired from enemy aircraft and she sank inside three minutes.  There was a further explosion when her boilers exploded underwater.  Sergeant Lennie Kirk was amongst those who died in the attack.  Survivors were picked up by the escorting destroyer HMS Farndale and taken to Alexandria in Egypt.

There were three Killed in Action notices in the 4 July 1942 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle – one from Lennie’s wife and daughter; one from his father, mother and brother Gerry and one from his brother and sister-in-law William and Nora Kirk (nee Allen) of Donaghadee Road, Newtownards.

Sergeant Thomas Leonard King Kirk (No. 1465494) was 27 when he died, and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church.