Irwin, John Cecil Brandon (No. 951459)

Irwin, John Cecil Brandon (Cecil)

Sergeant (Pilot)

No. 951459, 57 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in an aircraft accident on Friday 4 July 1941 (aged 21)

Buried:

Holywood Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 1213)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Holywood and District War Memorial

Glencraig Parish Church of Ireland Church (as C. Irwin)

Family grave headstone in Holywood Cemetery

Sullivan Upper School

Northern Banking Company Second World War Memorial Plaque (now located in Danske Bank, Donegall Square West, Belfast)

Brother of Flight Lieutenant William Thomas Irwin (No. 127920)

BIOGRAPHY

John Cecil Brandon Irwin was born on 13 October 1919 at 3 Bertha Row, Ballygrainey and he was a son of George and Lucinda Ann Irwin (nee Brandon) who were married on 6 August 1918 in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, Bangor.  George Irwin, a widowed grocer from Craigavad, was a son of George Irwin, a farmer.  Lucinda Ann Brandon from Craigavad was a daughter of John Brandon, a farmer.

George and Lucinda Ann Irwin (nee Brandon) had at least two children:

John Cecil Brandon (born 13 October 1919 at 3 Bertha Row, Ballygrainey)

William Thomas (born 1 September 1921)

George Irwin worked as a house painter and, for a short time, as a grocer.  For a time, the Irwin family lived at Kathleen Place, Craigavad.

George Irwin had previously been married to Elizabeth Jane Parker.  They were married on 12 July 1909 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  Elizabeth Jane Parker from Helen’s Bay was a daughter of Joseph Parker, a carpenter.

George and Elizabeth Jane Irwin (nee Parker) had at least three children:

Winifred (born 16 April 1910 at 33 Donnybrook Street, Belfast)

Margaret Elizabeth (born 2 May 1913 at Bertha Row, Craigavad)

Charles James (born 10 February 1915 at Bertha Row, Craigavad)

Elizabeth Jane Irwin (nee Parker) died of Bright’s Disease and eclampsia on 16 April 1917 (aged 31) at Bertha Row, Craigavad.

George Irwin died on 8 May 1950 (aged 64) and Lucinda Ann Irwin (nee Brandon) died on 16 July 1975 (aged 84).  Both were buried in Holywood Cemetery.

John Cecil Brandon Irwin attended Sullivan Upper School, Holywood from 1932 until 1938.  After leaving school he worked for the Northern Banking Company (now Danske Bank).  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, served with Bomber Command, and died on 4 July 1941 (aged 21).

Sergeant Cecil Brandon Irwin (No. 951459) was one of a six-man crew aboard a Vickers Wellington Mark IC aircraft (R1589) that took off from RAF Feltwell in Norfolk around midnight on 3 July 1941 on a mission to bomb Essen in Germany.  At eight minutes past midnight the aircraft crashed at Larman’s Fen off Southery Road, Feltwell and the cause was attributed to instrument failure.  Sergeant Poulton was the only survivor and the other four crew members who died that night were:

  • Sergeant William Joseph Harry Hoskins (aged 22) from Paddington, London
  • Flight Sergeant Evan David Evans (aged 30) from Erdington, Birmingham
  • Sergeant Robert Simeon Sparkes
  • Sergeant Philip Herbert Reay (aged 21) from Monkseaton, Tyneside

Southery Road remained closed for several days after the crash while unexploded bombs were removed from the wreckage.

Both brothers, Sergeant (Pilot) John Cecil Brandon Irwin and Flight Lieutenant William Thomas Irwin are commemorated on Holywood and District War Memorial; in Glencraig Parish Church of Ireland Church (as C. Irwin and W. Irwin); on the family grave headstone in Holywood Cemetery and in Sullivan Upper School.  Sergeant (Pilot) John Cecil Brandon Irwin is also commemorated on the Northern Banking Company Second World War Memorial Plaque (now located in Danske Bank, Donegall Square West, Belfast).