Sergeant William Henry Kibby (Posthumous)
Friday 11 October, 2019
Sergeant William Henry Kibby (Posthumous)
2/48th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force
23-31 October 1942, El Alamein, Egypt
William Henry “Bill” Kibby was born in Winlaton in Durham, England, on 15 April 1903. He was the son of John and Isabella. With his family, Bill migrated to Glenelg in South Australia in 1914. Bill attended Mitcham Public School and afterwards worked at the Perfection Fibrous Plaster Works in Edwardstown. He married Mabel Morgan in 1926, and the couple lived in Helmsdale with their two daughters.
Enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 29 June 1940, Bill was posted to the 2/48th Battalion on 27 August, when the unit was forming at Wayville. He was promoted to Corporal in September and made Sergeant the following month, just before the battalion sailed for the Middle East. The 2/48th trained in Palestine, fought in Libya, and was one of the units which occupied Tobruk between April and October 1941. The battalion later performed garrison duties in Syria until its return to Egypt in June 1942 for the operations which led up to the battle of El Alamein. It was here that Bill made the ultimate sacrifice.
The ferocity displayed by Bill when attacking the enemy posts was at odds with the man his family and friends knew. To them he was a quiet ad sincere man, whose daughters had never known him to raise his voice. During his time in Palestine, Bill painted water colours, often telling friends, ‘All I want out of life is to be back home at Glenelg with my wife, daughters and my garden.’
Aged 39 at the time of his death, Bill was later reinterred at the El Alamein Cemetery in Egypt. He was survived by Mabel and two daughters, Clariss and Jacqueline.
His citation reads:
During the initial attack at Miteiriya Ridge on the 23rd October, 1942, the Commander of No. 17 Platoon, to which Sergeant Kibby belonged, was killed. No sooner had Sergeant Kibby assumed command, than his Platoon was ordered to attack strong enemy positions holding up the advance of his Company. Sergeant Kibby immediately realised the necessity for quick decisive action, and without thought for his personal safety he dashed forward towards the enemy post firing his Tommy-gun. This rapid and courageous individual action resulted in the complete silencing of the enemy fire, by the killing of three of the enemy and the capture of twelve others. With these posts silenced, his Company was then able to continue the advance. After the capture of TRIG 29 on the 36th October, intense enemy artillery concentrations were directed on the battalion area, which were invariably followed with counter-attacks by tanks and infantry. Throughout the attack that culminated in the capture of TRIG 29 and the re-organisation period which followed, Sergeant Kibby moved from section to section personally directing their fire and cheering the men, despite the fact that the Platoon throughout was suffering heavy casualties. Several time, when under intense machine-gun fire, he went out and mended the platoon line communications, thus allowing mortar concentrations to be directed effectively against the attack on his Company’s front. His whole demeanour during this difficult phase in the operations was an inspiration to his Platoon. On the night of 30th– 31st October when the Battalion attacked ‘ring contour’ 25 behind the enemy lines, it was necessary for No. 17 Platoon to move through the most withering enemy machine-gun fire in order to reach its objective. These conditions did not deter Sergeant Kibby from pressing forward right to the objective, despite his platoon being mown down by machine-gun fire from point-blank range. One pocket of resistance still remained and Sergeant Kibby went forward alone throwing grenades to destroy the enemy now only a few yards distant. Just as success appeared certain, he was killed by a burst of machine-gun fire. Such outstanding courage, tenacity of purpose and devotion to duty was entirely responsible for the successful capture of the Company’s objective. His work was an inspiration to all and he left behind him an example and memory of a soldier who fearlessly and unselfishly fought to the end to carry out his duty.
The London Gazette
28 January 1943