Joseph was born December 15th 1891. His parents were John Henry and Mary Jane. They lived at Thorpe Street, Norton, with Joseph's older sister, one year old Margaret. Just over two weeks after his birth, Mary Jane dies on 1st January 1892, aged 24 years. She is buried in Oxbridge Cemetery and five days later, 6th January, Joseph is Christened at the same church where his mother's funeral was held.

Joseph's father John, who was a boiler maker, remarried later the same year, in Sunderland to a 21 year old servant called Sabina Vasey.

The family, which included a younger brother and two younger sisters from this second marriage, lived at 26 Balsover Street, Norton, before moving to 1 Windmill Lane, Stockton, in what is now the Dovecot Street area and which had a windmill at the bottom of the lane. 

Jospeh found work as an apprentice engineer and in 1914 married a Thornaby girl, Edith M Perks.

Shortly afterwards Joseph became Private 1252 Kirk, enlisting in The Durham Light Infantry, in the Territorial Force 5th Battalion.

On August 10th 1914, the battalion moved from Stockton up to Hartlepool and by October that year, via Ravensworth Park, the battalion were billeted in Newcastle. This was a period of increasingly intense preparation and training.

On 18 April 1915 the battalion landed at Boulogne. The German army had just attacked at nearby Ypres and the DLI was rushed into battle. The Division took part in the following engagements known as the second battle of Ypres: The Battle of St Julien (24th April - 5th May), The Battle of Frezenburg Ridge (8th May - 13th May) and on 14th May 1915 the 5th Battalion joined 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.

On 21st May Joseph was killed in action,  aged 24 years. His records show he was in the Western European Theatre and he was a Non Commissioned Officer at his time of death, meaning he had advanced from within and been promoted through the ranks.

He is now remembered by his name being etched in stone along with thousands of others who gave their lives. At Ypres at the Menin Gate on panel 36 to 38.

To some, 1252 Pte J H Kirk may have been mere working class cannon fodder … but to me he was, alongside many others, a hero. To my immense satisfaction and pride his name is recorded at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium and his name and contribution are remembered with sorrow and honour. “… At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them ..."

Joseph is being rememberedby Susan Stanley.