Frank Howard Kirby

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Frank Howard Kirby
Born 12 November 1871
Thame, Oxfordshire
Died 8 July 1956 (aged 84)
Sidcup, Kent
Buried Streatham Vale Crematorium
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
 Royal Air Force
Years of service 1892 - 1912 (Army)
1912 - 1926 (Air Force)
Rank Lieutenant (Army)
Group Captain (Air Force)
Unit Royal Engineers
Royal Flying Corps
Battles/wars Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Victoria Cross
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Conduct Medal

Group Captain Frank Howard Kirby VC CBE DCM (12 November 1871 – 8 July 1956) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Kirby was 28 years old, and a corporal in the Corps of Royal Engineers, British Army during the Second Boer War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:

On the morning of the 2nd June, 1900, a party sent to try to cut the Delagoa Bay Railway were retiring, hotly pressed by very superior numbers. During one of the successive retirements of the rearguard, a man, whose horse had been shot, was seen running after his comrades. He was a long way behind the rest of his troop and was under a brisk fire. From among the retiring troop Corporal Kirby turned and rode back to the man's assistance. Although by the time he reached him they were under a heavy fire at close range, Corporal Kirby managed to get the dismounted man up behind him and to take him clear off over the next rise held by our rearguard. This is the third occasion on which Corporal Kirby has displayed gallantry in the face of the enemy.[1]

The award was presented to him by the Duke of York (later King George V) in Cape Town in August 1901, during the visit of the Prince and his wife to that city as part of their Commonwealth tour. Kirby also received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his service in South Africa. The medal was presented to him in March 1902 after his return to the United Kingdom, in the presence of 1 000 Royal Engineers on parade.[2]

Later Service career[edit]

Kirby standing one place in from the right at the Central Flying School in 1913


Kirby was appointed a regimental sergeant major at Chatham in 1906. Five years later, in April 1911, he was gazetted with an honorary commission as a lieutenant, appointed a quartermaster,[3] and posted to the newly formed Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers. He attended the first course at the Central Flying School in 1912.

Kirby subsequently transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (which had absorbed the Air Battalion) and he was commissioned as an Equipment Officer. Kirby was appointed the Stores Officer at the Central Flying School. Kirby served at No 1 Aircraft Depot at Saint-Omer in early 1916, and with No 3 Army Aircraft Park in July 1916. In December 1916 he became commanding officer of No 1 Stores Depot at Kidbroke.

He went on to achieve the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Kirby remained in the Royal Air Force after the end of the First World War and was granted a permanent commission as a wing commander in 1920.[4] Kirby was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in July 1926.[5] He eventually retired, with permission to retain the rank of group captain, in December 1926.[6]

His VC is on display at the Lord Ashcroft VC Gallery in the Imperial War Museum in London.


  1. ^ "No. 27235". The London Gazette. 5 October 1900. p. 6126. 
  2. ^ "The War". The Times (36722). London. 22 March 1902. p. 13. 
  3. ^ "No. 28488". The London Gazette. 25 April 1911. p. 3168. 
  4. ^ "No. 32125". The London Gazette. 6 November 1920. p. 11119. 
  5. ^ "No. 33179". The London Gazette (Supplement). 72 July 1926. p. 4409.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ "No. 33227". The London Gazette. 7 December 1926. p. 8004. 

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