A Doctor’s War in Barton upon Humber

  • July 29, 2014 5:50 pm
  • By cannon303

After a break of 13 years, Barton upon Humber’s Civic Society is publishing the fourth part of the series Barton Remembered 1939-45:  A Doctor’s War.

The book is an edited version of the wartime diary of Barton family doctor Tom Kirk who died nine years ago at the age of 105.

The book has been edited by Geoff Bryant,  Nigel Land and Stephen Wright.

Mr Bryant explained how Part Four: A Doctor’s War came to be published.

“I knew of the existence of Dr Kirk’s wartime diaries and always hoped they would form Part Four of the series,”

he said. “Following his death in 2004 the diary was, in late 2011, handed over by his daughter Dr June Walker to Barton Civic Society which asked me to edit it prior to publication.”

Throughout World War Two Dr Kirk, fearing the War would presage the end of civilization  as he knew it and wishing to record something of the life of a small town doctor during those fraught times, kept these diaries.

“The diaries tell of a man who spent every waking hour of his usually very long days in profitable endeavour,” said Mr Bryant.  “His immediate family life and that of his and his wife’s relatives were clearly concerning and loving.  He cultivated and enjoyed the company of a wide circle of friends in the town and further afield and always made  himself available to his patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even at times when that devotion meant he was clearly exhausted.”

Dr Kirk’s practice covered not only Barton itself but many of the villages surrounding the town stretching from South Killingholme in the east to the Low Villages in the west.  His Barton surgery was at his home 36 Burgate.

Aside from work he maintained his interest in reading, music, drama and singing and the Boys’ Club.  His work for the “war effort” was largely centred on the Home Guard and St John Ambulance Brigade.

He also took a particular interest in the lives of the men and women based at Barton’s two nearest airfields, Goxhill and Elsham.

“Throughout most of the war years he kept a close and very favourable eye on the early discussions concerning the creation of a post-war ‘Socialist Medical Service’, our present day National Health Service, and he never took his eye off the military campaigns and political endeavours which marked eventual victory over Fascism.”

The book will be launched by his daughter, Dr Walker, at the Assembly Rooms on Friday, October 11, at 7.30pm. Priced at £10 the book can initially be bought after the launch from Dr Wright at 76 Brigg Road or Mr Bryant at 8 Queen Street.

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