Sidney Kirkman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sir Sidney Chevalier Kirkman
Sir Sidney Kirkman.jpg
Kirkman in the 1960s.
Born 29 July 1895
Died 29 October 1982 (aged 87)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1915–1950
Rank General
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held 65th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division
XIII Corps
Southern Command
I Corps

First World War
Second World War

Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath[1]
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross

General Sir Sidney Chevalier Kirkman GCB KBE MC (29 July 1895 – 29 October 1982) was a senior British Army officer, who served in both the First World War and Second World War, where he commanded the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division during the Allied invasion of Sicily and XIII Corps in the Italian Campaign. He became Director General of Civil Defence in the Civil Defence Department from 1954 to 1960.

Early life and First World War[edit]

Kirkman was born in 1895 and educated at Bedford School, Bedfordshire, and later at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.[2] During the First World War (1914–1918), Kirkman joined the British Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Royal Artillery in 1915 and was awarded the Military Cross during his time at the Western Front and later on the Italian Front[3] and attained the rank of acting major while commanding a battalion.[4][5]

Between 1919 and 1930, Kirkman remained in the British Army and served in Palestine, Malta[6] and India during the interwar years. He married in 1923, promoted to captain in January 1925[7] and major in March 1935.[8] Between 1931[9] and 1932 he attended the Staff College in Camberley, Surrey.[2] He completed a two-year staff posting in the rank of major to the RAF School of Co-operation in January 1938.[10][11]

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War (1939–1945), Kirkman served as Commanding Officer (CO) of the 65th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery from 1940–1941 in the acting rank of brigadier (he held the substantive rank of major at the time, being promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 1942[12] colonel in March 1944[13] and major-general in December 1944[14]). Later in 1941 and 1942 he held the position of Commander Royal Artillery (CRA)successively in I Corps, VII Corps, XII Corps and 56th (London) Infantry Division and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[2]

In 1942, Kirkman was appointed CRA Eighth Army (its chief gunnery officer) serving under Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery during the Second Battle of El Alamein in the North African Campaign, in late 1942, a fact paid tribute to in Montgomery’s memoirs,[3] and for which he was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division on promotion to acting major-general in April 1943[15] and led the division during Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily in July-August. After the Sicilian campaign was over the division was sent to the United Kingdom to prepare for the Allied invasion of Normandy, planned for the spring of 1944.[16]

In January 1944 Kirkman was promoted to acting lieutenant-general (he was still only a substantive lieutenant colonel)[17] and appointed commander of the Eighth Army's XIII Corps, fighting in Italy.[16] XIII Corps played a key role in the fourth and final battle of Monte Cassino in May 1944 and later came under command of the U.S. Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Mark Clark, fighting on its right wing in the assaults during the autumn and winter of 1944 on the Gothic Line and central Apennines. XIII Corps later returned to Eighth Army command in January 1945. He was invalided back to the United Kingdom with severe arthritis in March.[18]


Throughout the period of 1945 to 1950, Kirkman was a member of the Army Council, initially as GOC-in-Chief of Southern Command, then as of GOC-in-C I Corps in Germany[2] and then as Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff in the War Office. From 1947 he was Quartermaster-General to the Forces until 1950 when he retired from the British Army.[19] He was promoted to full general in August 1947.[20] Kirkman was honorary Colonel Commandant Royal Artillery from July 1947[21] until July 1957.[22]

Kirkman became Special Financial Representative in Germany from 1951 until 1952. In 1954 he became Director General of Civil Defence and held this post until 1960. From 1957 until 1960 he was also Chairman of the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council for England and Wales. He died 29 October 1982.[3]

Army career[edit]

1915 Commissioned Royal Artillery
1941 Commander Corps Royal Artillery I Corps
1941 Commander Corps Royal Artillery VII Corps
1942 Commander Corps Royal Artillery XII Corps
1942 Commander Royal Artillery 56th Division
1942 – 1943 Brigadier Royal Artillery 8th Army, North Africa
1943 – 1943 Brigadier Royal Artillery 18th Army Group, North Africa
1943 – 1944 General Officer Commanding 50th Division, North Africa – Sicily – UK
1944 – 1945 General Officer Commanding XIII Corps, Italy
1945 General Officer Commanding in Chief Southern Command
1945 General Officer Commanding I Corps, Germany
1945 – 1947 Deputy Chief Imperial General Staff, War Office
1947 – 1950 Quartermaster-General to the Forces, War Office
1950 Retired



  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39104. p. 2. 29 December 1950. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  2. ^ a b c d Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives King's College London
  3. ^ a b c New York Times archive November 7, 1982 retrieved on 13 March 2007
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31317. p. 5427. 29 April 1919. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30981. p. 12786. 29 October 1918. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33447. p. 8253. 14 December 1928. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33022. p. 1237. 20 February 1925. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34148. p. 2317. 5 April 1935. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33682. p. 458. 20 January 1931. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34280. p. 2801. 1 May 1936. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34479. p. 735. 4 February 1938. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35579. p. 2367. 29 May 1942. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36437. p. 1373. 21 March 1944. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36929. p. 805. 6 February 1945. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35988. p. 1849. 20 April 1943. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  16. ^ a b Blaxland, pp.22–23
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 36350. p. 523. 25 January 1944. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  18. ^ Blaxland, p.248
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38973. p. 3741. 21 July 1950. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38051. p. 3933. 19 August 1947. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38024. p. 3481. 22 July 1947. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41140. p. 4555. 30 July 1957. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
Military offices
Preceded by
Miles Dempsey
January 1944 – March 1945
Succeeded by
John Harding
Preceded by
Sir William Morgan
GOC-in-C Southern Command
Succeeded by
Sir John Crocker
Preceded by
Sir John Crocker
GOC I Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Ivor Thomas
Preceded by
Sir Ronald Weeks
Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Kenneth Crawford
Preceded by
Sir Daril Watson
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Ivor Thomas