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Monday, 18 July 2016

Remembering Oscar Howe Kirk - Died of Wounds July 18, 1916

Oscar Howe Kirk was born at Riversdale, Queens County on October 19, 1891, the fourth of five children raised by Rev. Joseph Howe and Laura (Christie) Kirk. Oscar’s father, Joseph, taught school at Cross Roads, Guysborough County for several years before completing studies for the Presbyterian ministry at Halifax, NS. In September 1913, Rev. Kirk returned to Guysborough County with his family and assumed the pastorate of Presbyterian congregations at Glenelg, Guysborough County and East River St. Mary’s, Pictou County.

Kirk family portrait, Oscar on his mother's lap.
On May 31, 1915, Oscar attested for overseas service with the 35th Battalion (Central Ontario) at Niagara Camp, ON. After spending the autumn and winter in England, Oscar was transferred to the 21st Battalion (Eastern Ontario) on April 1, 1916 and arrived in its camp near Ypres, Belgium, three weeks later.

Pte. Oscar Howe Kirk (top row, left) & his 35th Battalion platoon.

Upon arriving at the front, Oscar served a regular rotation with the 21st, returning with his comrades to the trenches near Voormezeele on July 15. After a quiet two days in the line, Oscar was severely wounded on July 18 and rushed to a nearby Casualty Clearing, where he succumbed to his injuries. He was laid to rest in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. In the years following the war, Oscar’s older sister, Jessie Katherine, visited his grave in the company of her husband, who had travelled to Europe to study medicine.

Pte. Oscar Howe Kirk's final resting place.
Bantry Publishing’s “First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917,” available for purchase online at Bantry Publishing’s website, contains a detailed description of Oscar’s family background and war service.

Family photograph courtesy of Oscar's great-niece, Paula Olsen, Railroad Flat, CA. Platoon photo courtesy of David Archer, Toronto, ON. Photograph of Oscar's headstone courtesy of Allon Lloyd, Kingston, ON, webmaster of "The 21st Battalion CEF" website. 

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