Birch, Alexander (No. K24890)

Birch, Alexander (Alex)

First Class Stoker

No. K24890, Royal Navy

Died of disease on Saturday 22 February 1919 (aged 32)

Commemorated:

Bangor and District War Memorial

Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque

Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum

McQuiston Memorial Presbyterian Church Belfast

BIOGRAPHY

Alexander Birch was born on 28 April 1886 in Millisle and he was a son of William John and Mary Jane Birch (nee Boyd) who were married on 27 January 1882 in Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church.  William John Birch from Drumfad was a son of Alexander Birch, a labourer.  Mary Jane Boyd (aged 20) from Millisle was a daughter of Francis Boyd, a labourer.

The Birch family lived in Millisle before moving to Belfast – Lena Street in 1901 and 19 Central Street, Knockbreda in 1911.

William John Birch worked as a general labourer and he and Mary Jane had 14 children including:

John James (born 20 November 1882 in Herdstown; died of hydrocephalus 28 September 1883 in Millisle)

Fergues (born 9 July 1884 in Millisle)

Alexander (born 28 April 1886 in Millisle)

Jane (born 31 July 1888 in Millisle)

Susanna (born 7 April 1890 in Millisle)

Mary Elizabeth (born 29 July 1892 in Millisle)

Francis (Frank, born 4 June 1894 in Millisle)

John (born 9 July 1896 in Millisle)

Isabella (born 15 April 1898 in Back Street, Donaghadee)

Annie (born 17 April 1900 at 34 Greenville Street, Belfast)

Wilhelmina (born 5 April 1902 at 223 East Bread Street, Belfast)

Elizabeth (Lizzie, born 7.40 pm 28 July 1904 at 3 Ribble Street, Belfast)

Sarah (born 7.50 pm 28 July 1904 at 3 Ribble Street, Belfast)

After leaving school Alex Birch worked as a railway porter and then as a railway signalman before joining the Royal Navy at Chatham on 10 March 1915 for the duration of hostilities.  It was noted that he was 5 feet 6¾ inches tall with brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.  He had extensive tattoos and he declared 28 April 1889 as his date-of-birth.  On 26 December 1917 First Class Stoker Alexander Birch (No. K24890) was invalided out of service because of heart disease.

During the Great War he served as a First Class Stoker in the Royal Navy and on 7 June 1917 he and Maggie McCullough were married in Bangor Abbey Church of Ireland Church.  Alexander Birch (aged 30) from Belfast was a son of William Birch, a labourer.  Maggie McCullough (aged 24) from Clandeboye was a daughter of Alexander McCullough, a labourer.

First Class Stoker Alexander Birch (No. K24890) died of influenza and cardiac failure on 22 February 1919 (aged 32) at 59 Coolfin Street, Belfast.  His brother-in-law, James S. Morrison, was with him when he died.

First Class Stoker Alexander Birch (No. K24890) is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum and in McQuiston Memorial Presbyterian Church Belfast.