Irwin, James Mackenzie (No. 6446)

Irwin, James Mackenzie (James)

Rifleman

No. 6446, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Died of wounds on Sunday 31 January 1915 (aged 19)

Buried:

Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave B. 35)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark)

BIOGRAPHY

The death of Rifleman James Irwin on 31 January 1915 was announced in a Killed in Action notice In the 27 February 1915 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle:

IRWIN – Died on 31 January 1915 from wounds received in action, Rifleman James Irwin, Royal North Downs (4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles) late of 73 Greenwell Street, Newtownards.

Inserted by his companions

N. Ledgerwood

J. Francis

A photograph of James Irwin was published in the 6 March 1915 edition and under the headline Another Newtownards Man Meets a Soldier’s Fate there was a report about his death.  It was reported that Rifleman James Irwin went to the Front on 3 December 1914 and served with the Royal North Downs.  When he was in Newtownards he resided with Mrs Ledgerwood at 73 Greenwell Street, Newtownards (Nathaniel and Sarah Ledgerwood from census returns).

In the report a letter from Lieutenant J.R. Tuckett to Rifleman James Irwin’s sister, Mrs White, was published.  The letter from 7th Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles was dated 8 February 1915 and, in it, Lieutenant Tuckett informed her that her brother, who had been his orderly, had asked him to write to her and tell her what had happened.

Lieutenant Tuckett wrote, ‘I was walking up to the trenches with him and my servant at 10.00 pm on 20 January when he was hit by a stray bullet, there being hundreds about that night, about 1,000 yards behind the firing line.  The bullet passed through from the left side and out the right side just below the ribs.  We bound him up and carried him to the nearest farm and sent for the nearest stretcher party.  He was quite conscious when he left soon after 11.00 pm’.  Lieutenant Tuckett went on to describe how brave and uncomplaining James Irwin had been and he told her that James had died of his wounds on 31 January 1915.

In the Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 database it is recorded that Rifleman James Irwin (No. 6446) was born in Dublin; lived in Kingstown, Co Dublin and enlisted in Newtownards.

In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Website it is recorded that Rifleman J. Mackenzie Irwin (No. 6446) died on 30 January 1915 (aged 19) and that he was a son of James M. Irwin of Dublin.

Rifleman James Mackenzie Irwin (No. 6446) was buried in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

THY WILL BE DONE

In CWGC records his next-of-kin is Mrs M. White, 1 Janeville Tivoli Road, Kingstown, Co Dublin.

While he was serving at the Front in December 1914 James Irwin wrote a letter which began ‘My Dearest Lizzie’.  In it he said that if anything happened to him his sister would let Lizzie know and he was leaving any money that might be due to him to Lizzie.  This was accepted as his informal will and in the Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects Miss Lily Smith is listed as his sole legatee.

Rifleman James Irwin is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark).