685683 PTE. P. K. STIRRUP. R.F.A.
Peter Kirkman Stirrup was born in Bamber Bridge in the first quarter of 1895. His father was Richard Stirrup (b. 1856 in Darwen), a machine minder in a cotton spinning room. His mother was Alice Forshaw (b. 1858 in Liverpool). Richard and Alice were married in 1878 and they had 7 children. Their first, Elizabeth, died young (1879-1883), the surviving children were: Alice Ann (b. 1882), Elizabeth Ellen (b. 1884), Angela (b. 1886), William (b. 1889), Richard Henry (b. 1891), and finally Peter. In 1911, Richard and Alice were living with 4 of their grown-up children at 27 Station Road, Bamber Bridge. Peter was a creeler in a cotton spinning room.
Peter was in the Territorials before the War and had joined the West Lancashire Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. His initial service number was 1584 which was changed to 685683 in 1917. He joined up in 1914 and was posted to 277 Brigade which formed part of the Divisional Artillery for 55th (West Lancashire) Division. He landed in France on 1 October 1915. 55th Division was heavily engaged in fighting on the Somme in September 1916, at Guillemont (4-6 September), Ginchy (9 September), Flers-Courcelette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). In October, they were moved to the Ypres salient, where they remained for over a year.
In 1917, they fought in the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. At Pilkem Ridge (31 July – 2 August), the Division captured all its objectives but at enormous cost – no fewer than 168 officers and 3384 other ranks were killed, wounded or missing. They were withdrawn for re-fit and training and returned to action at the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20-23 September), again suffering heavy casualties of 127 officers and 2603 other ranks. Worse was to come though in November-December when the Division faced the German counter-attack at Cambrai, and the front-line defence apparently crumbled allowing the Germans a rapid and almost bewildering advance.
After further intensive training during the winter, the Division returned to the front line between Givenchy and Festubert in February 1918. Here, it faced numerous strong enemy raids in March and it was during one of these raids that Peter was wounded. He died of his wounds on 29 March in hospital in Rouen. He was 23 years old.
Service Number: 685683
Date of Death: 29/03/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "B" Bty., 277th Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: P. VII. L. 11B.
Cemetery: ST. SEVER CEMETERY EXTENSION, ROUEN
Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Stirrup, of 27 Station Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston, Lancs.
Peter’s brothers also served in the Artillery. Richard Henry was 680864 Pte. R. H. Stirrup, in 276 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. So Peter and Richard were in different brigades but in the same Division and therefore fought alongside each other. Being three years older, Richard had joined the territorials a little earlier and was originally given service number 775. Richard was demobilised after the War. He married in 1922 and died in 1963.
William was 696086 Cpl. W. Stirrup, also in the Royal Field Artillery. From his service number it appears he was in 55th Division DAC (Divisional Ammunition Column). He wasn’t in France in 1915 so must have been sent out later but it looks as though all three brothers were together through 1916 and 1917. William was demobilised at the end of the War. He married in 1921 but died in 1929.