A.C. Kirk was the son of a German couple, Friedrich and Johanna Kirchenwitz, and this was his surname throughout childhood. The first use of the name Kirk appears to have been at his enlistment, and so it appears he was one of a number of naturalised German immigrants who changed their name, for obvious reasons. The family lived in Whitechapel, London, when Alfred Charles was born in 1884. His father, Friedrich Carl August Kirchenwitz was originally from Zechendorf in Pomerania but became a naturalised Englishman in 1901. His profession was as a tailor’s cutter, living for a time at 16 American Square in Minories. Alfred attended the City of London School 1898-July 1903, and Durham University 1903-1906, where he studied Arts but did not complete his degree. A Hatfield man, he rowed for his College as well as representing the university, in 1906. The 1911 census records that he was then Assistant Secondary Schoolmaster in a London school. He enlisted in the 13th (County of London) Princess Louise’s Kensington Battalion of the London Regiment, as a lance-corporal; and he was gazetted second lieutenant in 1917. His medal card indicates that it was only after this date that his service in France began.
A.C. Kirk died on 31 March 1918, during the Second Battle of Arras, and was buried at the Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension. His father having died in 1906, Kirchenwitz’s medals and his effects were sent by the War Office to his mother Johanna Caroline Kirchenwitz, and it was to her that probate was granted in June 1918. The change of surname seems to have confused some authorities to the extent that his sacrifice is not (yet) commemorated on any war memorial, even at Durham, although his name appears in the Durham University Roll of Service.