Kirby, Leonard William

Sergeant Leonard William Kirby, MM in 1956

SB87943 Sergeant Leonard William  Kirby, MM, CD was born 31 August 1922 in St. Catherines, Ontario, son of John Albert Kirby and Elizabeth Margaret Mulligan. His father has served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

He enlisted in the Canadian Army Militia in 1939. He transferred to the Regular Army in the early part of the Second World War serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment until May 1945.  On 1 April 1944 he was awarded the Military Medal “in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in Italy.”

“During the afternoon of 4 October 1943, while the Royal Canadian Regiment was attacking the village of San Marco, Italy, the dismounted Carrier Platoon moved up to a ridge to protect Battalion H.Q.  Pt Kirby (No.1 of a Bren Gun) deliberately exposed himself in order to draw enemy fire with the object of allowing the remainder of his platoon to press forward and engage the enemy. He performed this action several times, and having pinpointed the enemy, returned their fire. As a result of this action and the action of the bren gunner of the adjacent section, two enemy machine guns were destroyed and several others silenced and the further advance of the Carrier Platoon and “B” Company, The Royal Canadian Regiment was made possible. The enemy position was penetrated and his withdrawal was thus hastened. 

By his complete disregard for danger and his determination to press forward and destroy the enemy, Pte Kirby set a very high example to the men of his platoon, instilling in them the urge to close with the enemy. His conduct throughout  the action was such as to uphold the highest traditions of the Canadian infantry.”

After a period of five years as a civilian, Kirby rejoined the regular army and served with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada from 1950 to 1966.

He died suddenly on 1 June 1966 while serving in Germany with the 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group. He is buried in the Canadian Military Cemetery in Werl, Germany.

"In Pace Paratus – In Peace Prepared"

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