Joe was the younger of the two Kirk brothers who died in the War. Tom was killed on 4 June 1915 also whilst serving with the 1/10th Battalion. Their parents were George and Jane who originated from Chapel en le Frith but had emigrated to Seattle in America, where both boys were born. By 1901, they had returned to Britain and were living at 19 Arkburn Road in the Heaton Lane area of Stockport. George earned his living as a book-keeper.
At the time of the Great War, Joe was working as a salesman for the Northern Manufacturing Co and was living at the family home on Prince's Road, Heaton Moor. In his spare time, he was a member of the West Heaton and Northern Tennis Clubs, In the winter, he played lacrosse for Heaton Mersey at Third Home and had represented the North of England. The local newspaper described him as "one of the most prolific goal scorers in the north".
Along with a number of local lacrosse players, he joined the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on 7 August 1914, just three days after War declared. He was allocated 2106 as his service number. Tom was 2107 confirming that they joined up together. By the middle of the following month, they were aboard a ship bound for Egypt where they spent the next seven months.
Towards the end of April, both brothers received commissions as 2nd Lieutenants and were transferred to the 1/10th Battalion. On 6 May, the Battalion left the safety of Egypt to go into action at Gallipoli. Whilst on active service, battalions were expected to keep a daily record of activities in an official War Diary. These are now at the National Archives. However, there is no sign of a record of the 10th battalion until entries start in mid August. Perhaps it has been mislaid or stolen in recent times or, perhaps, it was never written. It does means that much of the detail of Joe's time at Gallipoli is now lost.
He is known to have been wounded on 7 August. This was a day later officially designated as the Battle of the Vineyard. As far as can be established, the Battalion was in support on that day and did not take in the actual attack. The Turks counter-attacked heavily and Joe was probably wounded by shellfire.
The next day, he was admitted to a field hospital on the cliffs overlooking the original landing beach. A week later, he is known to have been at another field hospital - 24th Casualty Clearing Station at Mudros on the nearby Greek island of Lemnos. From there, he was taken to a Red Cross hospital at Cairo. At some point, his condition was suitably stabilised for a long trip and he was put on board the Hospital Ship "Syria" at Port Said for return to Southampton. Once back in Britain he was admitted to Codford Military Hospital.
He made good progress and was discharged from hospital on 3 October at which point he was given two months sick leave, before returning to camp near Codford. On 9 October, he and two friends went out on a motor cycle run. Joe and one of his friends collided and both were badly injured. Joe never regained consciousness and died the next day. His body was brought back to Stockport where he was buried on 14 February, following a service at St Paul's Church, Heaton Moor.