John Frederick Belton Kirkland

Rifleman John Frederick Belton Kirkland, B64008
Toronto, Ontario
The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada

Rifleman Kirkland is sponsored by Churchill Corporate Communications
Rifleman Kirkland était parrainé par Churchill Corporate Communications

John Kirkland was born on 20 December 1921 in Ottawa Ontario Canada. He was raised in Toronto Ontario by his parents Harold John Kirkland and Nora Lucy Grieve Kirkland. John was a middle child to three siblings, his older brother Harold, older sister Joan and younger sister Patricia. The Kirkland family belonged to the United Church and practiced its religious teachings. John went to school till he was 17; he only did two years technical instead of the full four because of dropping out for the Militia. He went to school to learn the trade of Machinist but didn’t finish the apprenticeship. John worked as a shipper for 1 year up to enlistment. He worked at “Dominon Wrapper” which wrapped and labeled papers.

On 19 June 1940 John enlisted to be an active member of the military for the upcoming world war. He had been serving in the Active Militia of Canada for 2 years prior, indicating the he was only 17 when he began to train for war. For his second enlistment he signed up in Toronto Ontario, being assigned once again to the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. On 29 June 1940 he was sent to Camp Borden near Toronto for training. John then was transferred to “W” Force in Newfoundland which was on the frontlines of the battle of the Atlantic. He arrived in Newfoundland on 10 January 1941. He would remain there until he was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia in preparation for going overseas. He left Halifax on 20 July 1941 never to return home. His transport ship arrived in Gourock, Scotland nine days later. Gourock, Scotland was one of the ports used by Canadian troops coming to the United Kingdom.

 

While in the UK John was caught away from barracks without permission. According to his military record he was absent without leave for 12 hours and 31 minutes, and was punished 4 days confined to barracks and loses one day’s pay of $1.50. He is officially attached to the Queen’s Own Rifles as a rifleman on 12 October 1941. Again he runs into trouble and is confined to barracks for seven days and forfeits 3 day’s pay on 13 December 1941. He is confined to barracks once again on 4 May 1942 but continues his training and is attached to the Royal Canadian Artillery to learn anti-tank tactics. When finished on 17 August 1942 he returns to the Queen’s Own. He is awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal on 23 September 1943. The last entry in his military movements is that he boards the transport troop’s ship for the Normandy invasion on 1 June 1944 and is killed in battle on 6 June 1944.

On 6 June 1944 at 6:00 am the word comes and the men file silently to their respected boats, they pack in and get lowered in to the sea. Not long after quite a few soldiers are sea sick due to the waters roughness, At this point the soldiers are about 7 miles off the coast of France. Intermittent gun fire could be heard but the war diaries state that nothing tremendous had developed yet. At 7:15 the war Diaries say that “all hell breaks loose” as the artillery and various support weapons cut loose with all they have. The shore can now be seen but it is fast being obscured by smoke being caused by their shells landing in Bernieres-sur-mer.

Soldiers received word at 7:20 at B HQ from higher formation that “H” hour has been postponed for thirty minutes. The original H-hour for the 8th Brigade was scheduled for 7:45.No reason was given right away but later they learned that the D.D. tanks and A.V.R.E’s (Armored Vehicle Royal Engineers) were behind schedule.

John’s respected company, D, touched down at 8:30 under Major J. N. Gordon, landing on “Nan White” beach. Half of the L.C.A had struck mines but, by a miracle, few of the men were wounded and all swam or waded ashore. At this point the D.D tanks and A.V.R.E’s have landed on the beach. Armored support in the assault phase would be provided by the D.D tanks of the 10th Armored Regiment, “B” squadron supporting the Queen’s Own. The 10th Armored Regiment recorded the Q.O.R suffered severely before “B” squadron could support it. The war diaries state that the soldiers were disappointed that none of the beach defenses had been touched and that it had caused very high casualties among the assaulting coys. D coy immediately pressed forward along the Brigade Center Line: Beny-sur-mer, Bernières-sur-mer, Basly, Colomby-sur-Thaon, and Anguerny Heights. Great stress was placed on the capture of the last mentioned, which was of great tactical importance to the division. The Battalion diary records that the beach was cleared by 11:15 four hours and five minutes after landing. Finally, at 1730 hrs, the battalion reached its D-Day objective, Anguerny Heights, and dug in around the village. The most forward position was the village of Anisy which had been taken by D company. Chester Wilmot remarks in The Struggle for Europe: “so fast did The Queen’s Own move against this and other positions that when The Regiment de la Chaudière began to land behind them fifteen minutes later, the only fire on the beach was coming from Snipers.” Never did the riflemen’s creed of dash and initiative reap a richer reward.

We will never know the exact hour John Kirkland fell to enemy fire, but we can remember his final acts of service to Canada and its citizens. John rests in peace in White Beach Shore, Beny-sur-mer Canadian Military Cemetery in Normandy France. He lies in Grave 10, row F, plot 1. John’s courageous acts were recognized by his superiors, he was awarded the Star of France and Germany Star, defense Medal, War Medal and Canadian volunteer Service Medal and Clasp.

 

Written by: a student at Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute in Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Rédigé par:un élève de Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute, Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada.

 

 

REMEMBER TODAY, REMEMBER ALWAYS.

THIS TRIBUTE PROFILE CONTAINS AVAILABLE BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON ONE OF THE CANADIANS WHO DIED ON JUNO BEACH ON 6 JUNE 1944. THE PROFILE ALSO RECOGNIZES THE INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANIZATION WHO GENEROUSLY SPONSORED THIS SOLDIER, AND INCLUDES A MESSAGE OF THANKS AND REMEMBRANCE FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE SOLDIER’S NATIVE TONGUE AND HAS BEEN COMPILED BY THE LEST WE FORGET PROGRAM AND, IN SOME CASES, THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE SOLDIERS.  DUE TO THE INCONSISTENCY OF HISTORICAL RECORDS AND THE SPARSE AVAILABILITY OF FIRST-HAND WITNESSES, WE KNOW MORE ABOUT SOME THAN OTHERS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE ANY MATERIAL OR HELP IN OUR EFFORTS TO PRESENT THE BIOGRAPHIES IN BOTH FRENCH AND ENGLISH, PLEASE CONTACT: JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.

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CE PORTRAIT CONTIENT DES INFORMATIONS BIOGRAPHIQUES RELATIVES À L’UN DES CANADIENS QUI SONT MORTS SUR LA PLAGE JUNO, LE 6 JUIN 1944. IL PORTE ÉGALEMENT MENTION DE LA PERSONNE OU DE L’ORGANISATION QUI A GÉNÉREUSEMENT PARRAINÉ CE SOLDAT, AINSI QU’UN MESSAGE DE REMERCIEMENT EN SOUVENIR DE SON SACRIFICE. CES INFORMATIONS SONT DISPONIBLES DANS LA LANGUE MATERNELLE DU SOLDAT ET ONT ÉTÉ COMPILÉES PAR LE PROGRAMME LEST WE FORGET ET, DANS CERTAINS CAS, GRÂCE À LA GÉNÉROSITÉ DES PERSONNES LIÉES AUX SOLDATS. EN RAISON DE LA DISPARITÉ DES DOCUMENTS HISTORIQUES ET DES RARES TÉMOINS DE L’ÉPOQUE, NOUS NE DISPOSONS PAS DE LA MÊME QUANTITÉ D’INFORMATION SUR TOUS LES SOLDATS. SI VOUS SOUHAITEZ COMPLÉTER NOTRE DOCUMENTATION OU NOUS AIDER DANS NOS EFFORTS POUR PRÉSENTER LES BIOGRAPHIES EN FRANÇAIS ET EN ANGLAIS, MERCI DE CONTACTER : JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.