Geoffrey John Kirkby

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Geoffrey John Kirkby
Born (1918-08-26)26 August 1918
Swaffham, Norfolk
Died 24 October 1998(1998-10-24) (aged 80)
Lewes, Sussex
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Captain
Unit HMS Kingston
HMS Melbreak
Commands held HMS Diana

Second World War

Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Cross & Two Bars
Mentioned in Despatches

Captain Geoffrey John Kirkby CBE, DSC & Two Bars (26 August 1918 – 24 October 1998) was an officer in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, serving mainly at sea in small ships.

Early life[edit]

Kirkby was born on 26 August 1918. He was educated at Taunton School, an independent school in Taunton, Somerset.[1]

Military service[edit]

First DSC (June 1940)[edit]

Aged 21, Kirkby was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for boarding the sinking Italian Navy submarine Torricelli and capturing the vessel's signal books. Kirkby was serving on board HMS Kingston at the time.

Second DSC (March 1942)[edit]

Kirkby, while still serving on board Kingston, took part in the Second Battle of Sirte, where Rear-Admiral Vian defended a Malta convoy against a far superior Italian force.

Kingston took part in a torpedo raid, for which the ship had to close within three miles of the Italian heavy units, and which led to the award of Kirkby's second DSC.

Third DSC (August 1944)[edit]

Kirkby was now on board HMS Melbreak which, for the Normandy landings, acted as a marker for US Forces landing at Omaha Beach.

The action which led to the award of his third DSC came in a series of fierce actions spread over four nights which frustrated the German efforts to evacuate Le Havre in August 1944.[2]

Kirkby was also Mentioned in Despatches in November 1944.[3]

Post war[edit]

One of his post war appointments was as captain of HMS Diana between 1961 and 1962. He developed the reputation as an inspirational leader and an outstanding ship handler.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Kirkby received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1968.[4]

One of his two daughters is Dame Emma Kirkby, a soprano singer.


  1. ^ Sainsbury, A. B. (1 December 1998). "Obituary: Captain Geoffrey Kirkby". The Independent. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36794. p. 5226. 14 November 1944.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36815. p. 5457. 14 November 1944.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44484. p. 5. 1 January 1968.

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