Lieutenant Colonel J.R. Kirkpatrick
55th (New Brunswick and P.E.I.) Battalion
Some of the advantages of a machine gun are, that while equal to that of sixty men that it occupies only about a yard of space, and owing to its size can readily be concealed. It can be easily and rapidly moved from one position to another by a few men; it can be and has been handled with deadly effect by two men; it is capable of firing from 350 to 600 rounds per minute, and an object on which a machine gun is successfully trained cannot fail to be totally annihilated in a very short space of time.
(Lt. Col. Kirkpatrick, Daily Gleaner, 21 Jul 1915, 5)
Born on 18 December 1863 in Debec Junction, New Brunswick, James Renfrew Kirkpatrick was a farmer and long-time militiaman. He had served for nearly thirty years in the 67th Carleton Light Infantry. As commanding officer of regiment, he was one of many senior militia officers at Valcartier in August 1914 hoping for a posting to one of the overseas battalions. He sailed with First Contingent to England but was struck off strength as a surplus officer in December 1914.
On return to New Brunswick, in early 1915, Kirkpatrick was authorized to raise the 55th Battalion from the Maritimes. When it arrived in England in November 1915, the battalion provided reinforcements for the front. As the 55th was depleted, a corporal wrote home in April 1916: “The boys that went over were feeling badly because they have been separated and placed in different battalions. Some of them are going in the 42nd and the others in the 60th, 58th, 25 and 14th Battalions. As orderly to Colonel Kirkpatrick I will be in England as long as the Colonel stays.” Kirkpatrick was struck off strength the next month and returned home.
In July what remained of the 55th was absorbed into the 40th Battalion. By 1917 it was re-designated the 26th Reserve Battalion under the command of Lieutenant A. G. Vincent.
Kirkpatrick died in Debec, New Brunswick on 9 December 1926.