FIRST NAMES: Herbert Edward
UNIT: 1st Northumberland Fusiliers
MARITAL STATUS: Single
OCCUPATION: Lino Cutter
ADDRESS: 1 Beaconsfield St. Northallerton
STATUS: Killed in Action
DATE OF DEATH: July 1941
WHERE BURIED: Tobruk
MEDALS: 1939-45 Star, Palestine Medal, Africa Star, Victory Medal
Bert Kirby was born in Northallerton in 1916 to Mrs Kirby but from an early age he lived with and was part of the Blueman family at Beaconsfield street. He was always known as Bert Blueman. He attended Applegarth School and the national school on East Road.
On leaving school in 1930, Bert worked as a lino cutter at Miles Sykes lino factory on Romanby Road. As a young man Bert Blueman was known for his strength and athletic ability and was fond of wrestling and fighting but not of boxing, the scraps often taking place at Castle Hills fields.
In 1935, when the lino factory closed, Bert along with another well known Northallerton character called 'Pimp' Castle volunteered for the army and ended up in the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusliers. Some two years later he was posted to Palestine to a place called Lone Tree Camp near Tel-a-Viv. He was there when war broke out. In 1941 he was in the thick of the Battle for Tobruk alongside the Australians. The 1st Battalion fought stubbornly but were overwhelmed and it was there that Bert Blueman was killed. His cousin Charlie Blueman was serving with the 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers in the same sector. When Bert was killed the platoon Sergeant wrote a letter to his mother Mrs Kirby, which read:
7 Platoon,1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
Middle East Forces.
Dear Mrs Kirby,
On behalf of No 7 Platoon in which your son was serving you have our deepest felt sympathy and we share with you in such a great loss. Not only was he well liked among his platoon comrades he stood out as an example of resourcefulness and cheerfulness in his battalion and was one of the highest spirited men I have ever met.
Ever to be remembered as a great hero.
Yours reverently Sgt.W.D.Halls.
Bert Blueman (Kirby) lies buried in a Commonwealth war grave at Tobruk, Libya, in Plot 4, Row L, Grave 13. He is also remembered on the Northallerton War Memorial and on the All Saints Parish Church Memorial.
Bert was aged 25 years.