Second Lieutenant William Sinclair Irvine


William Sinclair Irvine was born on 28 August 1893 at North Wall, Londonderry, the second of six children of master printer David Sinclair Irvine and his wife Sarah (nee Barr). Educated at the First Derry School and Londonderry Technical School, by 1911 he was living with his parents and four siblings at 2 Worthland Road, Londonderry, and working as an apprentice printer.

Irvine applied for a commission in the infantry in October 1915. It appears however that he was unsuccessful. Instead, he enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Londonderry on 23 November 1915. He reported for duty at Antrim eleven days later, where he was assigned regimental number 2011 (later Corps of Hussars No.71670). He was promoted to corporal on 5 February 1916 and acting sergeant six months later.

Irvine qualified as a musketry instructor following a course at the School of Musketry in Dublin in March and April 1916.

On 15 January 1917 Irvine reverted to the rank of private and the following day embarked for France. He joined E Squadron in the field at Humbercourt a month later.

Within weeks, however, an old injury began to trouble him and he was sent to the 22nd General Hospital at Camiers. There it was found he was suffering from a detached semi-lunar cartilage in his right knee, as well as synovitis, and that this would impair his ability to carry out active service. At the end of March 1918 he was classified as 'PB' – 'permanent base' and 'PU' – 'permanently unfit'.

Irvine was attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps at the Abancourt Stationary Hospital. On 23 November 1917 he applied for a commission with a preference for the Labour Corps. (He gave his peacetime occupation as 'printing (monotype)' and his address as Mount Royal, Northland Road, Londonderry.) On 25 January 1918 he was ordered to report to the officer commanding the Labour Corps Depot for a test of his suitability for a commission. He was successful and on 10 February was appointed as a 2nd lieutenant in the Labour Corps.

On 17 February Irvine was posted to the 189th Labour Company, remaining with that unit until 20 January 1919, when he was posted to 375 Prisoner of War Company. However eight days later he left for the UK for demobilisation. He relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921.

Irvine died at Londonderry on 10 September 1970, and was buried in the Altnagelvin Cemetery.



Image sourced from the Billion Graves website.