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Kirby, John A.

John A. Kirby Merchant Marines WWII
John A. Kirby Merchant Marines WWII

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Date of Birth: 11/11/1925
Died On: 9/24/1990 Last Residence: 10580, Rye, Westchester, New York
Street Address: 36 Orchard Ave./500 Midland per 1940 census
Service Number: unknown
Branch of Service: Merchant Marines - EZRA WESTON EBC-66

Veteran Code: MM-11

BIOGRAPHY Extended Information
John A. Kirby

John A. Kirby was born in 1925 and lived with his family at 500 Midland Avenue and later at 36 Orchard Ave in Rye, New York. Rye was a small town with a population of 9,865. John's father rented this home for $45/month ($855 in today’s dollars).

John's parents were Marion and Jack and John was one of seven children. His siblings were named Adelaide, Marion, George, James, Thomas, and Joan. All 9 of the family members were born in New York. In 1940 at the age 14, John was a middle child and his father and his mother were both 45. John's father was a police officer, while his mother was a homemaker and community volunteer and John was in high school.

His family were parishioners of the Resurrection Church. John enlisted in 1943 and served in the Merchant Marines during World War II.
John A. Kirby served aboard the USS EZRA WESTON which operated in numerous short-range convoys from Britain and Ireland to France and back, related to the D-Day invasion, from 7 June 1944 to 8 Aug 1944.

At 21. 27 hours on 8 Aug 1944, EZRA WESTON Master Joseph Patoka in convoy EBC-66 was hit by one torpedo from U-667 about eight miles off Trevose Head, Cornwall, while proceeding in the starboard column as third ship in line. The torpedo struck the port side at the #1 hold. The explosion lifted the ship out of the water, blew of the covers of the #1 and #2 hatches and ruptured the hull on both sides. A column of water and deck cargo flew mast high. She flooded slowly, possibly due in part to the flour in the first hold, seen trailing on both sides of the ship.

The Canadian corvette HMCS REGINA K 234 turned and thinking the Liberty ship was mined slowed down to pick up survivors. U-667 fired a Gnat [a type of German torpedo] at the corvette, which blew up and sank within 30 seconds. The master tried to beach EZRA WESTON and steamed toward the coast of England seven miles away.

At 22. 12 hours, with the forecastle head awash, the master ordered the engines secured. The vessel had cracked forward of the bridge shortly after she was hit and had now broken nearly in two. The British landing ship HMS LCT-24 came alongside and John Kirby with most of the nine officers, 34 men, 26 Armed Guard sailors (the ship was armed with two 3-in. and eight 20-mm guns) and two US Army security officers transferred to her. The master, two mates and the Armed Guard officers all left by a lifeboat five minutes later and went on board the British armed trawler HMS JACQUES MORGAND.

All survivors were landed in Padstow Bay, England. At 23. 22 hours, EZRA WESTON broke in two and sank.

John A KIRBY 25-year Engineer

John A Kirby a lifelong Rye resident and a 25-year engineer for the Greenwich Conn Department of Public Works died Monday 9/24/1990 at the Kingsbridge Veterans Administration Hospital in the Bronx, he was 64 years old. The cause of death was not disclosed. Mr. Kirby was born November 11 1925 to John D and Marion Winkler Kirby.

He attended Rye Resurrection Grammar School and Rye High School before studying at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point NY.. During World War II Mr. Kirby served from July 1943 to March 1948 in the Merchant Marines. He was awarded a number of medals including the Middle East and Atlantic War Zone bars and the Merchant Marine Combat Bar.

He worked for 25 years as a stationary engineer for the Greenwich Department of Public Works' water treatment plant, retiring in 1988. Mr. Kirby was a member of the American Legion in Port Chester, the Milton Engine and Hose Fire Department in Rye, the Bible Study at Greenwich's Christ Church, the Rye Senior Citizens and the Rye Fish and Game Club. He was a parishioner at Resurrection Church in Rye.

At the time of his death Mr. Kirby was survived by his mother Marion of Rye, three sisters: Adelaide McGee of Harrison, Marion K Maloney of Rye, Joan K O'Keefe of Rye and a brother C James Kirby of Rye. Two brothers Thomas V and George J died earlier.

Post Script I - John had two first cousins who died in WWII, James Kirby Taylor and John E. Bassett. Other family members who served in WWII include his brother George J. Kirby his uncle Charles Winkler, two other cousins Thomas O'Reilly and Stephen O'Reilly and two brothers in law Thomas J Maloney and Thomas F McGee. All are honored on the Rye City Hall WWII Memorial.
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