Irwin, William Thomas (William)
No. 127920, 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed on active service on Sunday 3 October 1943 (aged 22)
Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintford, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany Grave 3. K. 9)
Holywood and District War Memorial
Glencraig Parish Church of Ireland Church (as W. Irwin)
Family grave headstone in Holywood Cemetery
Sullivan Upper School
William Thomas Irwin was born on 1 September 1921 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.
William Thomas Irwin attended Glencraig Public Elementary School and then Sullivan Upper School, Holywood from 1934 until 1937. William worked in Messrs Short and Harland before he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and he was 22 when he died on 3 October 1943. He was one of an eight-man crew aboard a Handley Page Halifax Mark II aircraft (HR728) that took off at 6.10 pm from RAF Snaith in Yorkshire on a mission to bomb Kassel in Germany. Their aircraft crashed near the German town of Petershagen, all aboard were killed and they were buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
DARLING SON OF GEORGE AND LUCINDA IRWIN,
KATHLEEN PLACE, CRAIGAVAD, BELFAST, N.I.
The other seven crew members who died that night were:
- Flight Lieutenant James Alfred Grundy (aged 31) from Oxenholme, Westmorland
- Pilot Officer William Joshua Watson
- Flight Officer James Jeremiah Dawkins (aged 21) from Cupernham, Hampshire
- Flight Officer Reginald Thomas Watkinson (aged 20) from Wallasey, Cheshire
- Warrant Officer Stanley Woolhouse (aged 25) from Walkley, Sheffield
- Sergeant John Dixon from West Ealing, Middlesex
- Sergeant James Frederick Gordon (aged 19) from Chryston, Lanarkshire
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).