No. 7587, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of wounds on Monday 9 November 1914 (aged 29)
Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave I. M. 55)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
John Irvine was born on 17 July 1884 in Georges Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Samuel and Margaret Irvine (nee Dunn) who were married on 4 April 1868.
Samuel Irvine was a soldier who served for a time in India and in civilian life he worked as a weaver.
The Irvine family lived in Newtownards in South Street, East Street, Greenwell Street, Georges Street, Movilla Street, Dobbin’s Row and at 24 Upper Movilla Street.
Samuel and Margaret Irvine had at least seven children:
Margaret (born 31 December 1868 in South Street, Newtownards)
Samuel (born 1 August 1871 in East Street, Newtownards)
Robert (born 15 January 1883 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
John (born 17 July 1884 in Georges Street, Newtownards)
James (born 8 January 1887 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)
David (born 24 August 1889 in Movilla Street, Newtownards; died of gastritis 18 July 1899)
William (born 20 September 1893 in Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards)
John Irvine was a Reservist who had previously served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in India. At the start of the Great War he was called up to the 2nd Battalion and went to the Front at the outbreak of hostilities. He died in Poperinghe Hospital on 9 November 1914 as a result of wounds received in action at Neuve Chapelle on 3 November 1914.
Ironically, Rifleman John Irvine had sent a postcard dated 3 November 1914 to his brother Samuel intimating that he was well. Samuel Irvine lived at 152 Leopold Street, Belfast.
Around the time of John Irvine’s death news came through that his brother, Rifleman James Irvine, had been wounded in action. In civilian life James Irvine served his time in watchmaking and repairing in the firm of Robert Stouppe, Jeweller, Newtownards.
After Rifleman John Irvine died, his mother Margaret placed a Killed in Action notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
Though my heart may break with sorrow,
By the grief so hard to bear,
I shall meet him some bright morning
In our Father’s mansion fair.
In 1915 his brothers and sister Margaret placed an In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verses:
At your country’s call you answered,
Nor feared to meet the foe;
‘My King and country need me.’
And we would say, ‘Don’t go.’
His loving face and kindly smile
Are pleasant to recall;
He had a kindly word for each,
And died beloved of all.
We ofttimes sit and think of him,
We cannot think he’s dead;
We little thought when he left home
It was his last farewell.
Rifleman John Irvine is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 288).