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RAMC profile of:
Francis Stephen IRVINE M.B., Ch.B.

Place or Date
of Birth:
Belfast on the 26th December 1873

Service Number:

TF Number:

Rank: Col (a.Maj Gen)


Attached To: Staff = D.A.D.M.S. - 2nd Division

Enlistment Location:

Also Served: See below

Outcome: Continued to serve after the war

Date Died: 3rd July 62
Age Died:

Where Buried and/or Commemorated:

Awards: DSO; MiDx3

Gazette Reference: 23/6/1915; 17/2/1915, 22/6/1915, 6/7/1918

Other Information:

Francis received his medical education at Queens College, Belfast, qualifying M.B.,B.Ch., B.A.O. R.U.I. in 1899. He subsequently joined the R.A.M.C. on 17th November at the rank of Lieutenant, and saw active service in South Africa from 1899 to 1902, being present at the Relief of Ladysmith, including operations of 24th January 1900, and action at Spion Kop; operations of 5th to 7th February 1900, and action at Vaal Kranz; and in the operations on Tugela Heights 14th to 27th February 1900; in the Transvaal, June to December 1901, and Jan to May 1902; during the operations on the Zululand Frontier of Natel in September and October 1901; and also in the Orange River Colony, March 1902. For his service he received the Queen’s South African Medal & 4 clasps, and the King’s South African Medal & 2 clasps. On 17th November 1902 he was promoted to the rank of Captain, then served in India 1902 to 1905. He returned to South Africa, employed with the Transvaal Volunteers from 13th October 1906 to 12th October 1909. On 17th August 1911 he gained promotion to Major. After war was declared on 4th August 1914, Francis embarked for France on the 9th, with the headquarters of Divisional formation, as Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services for the Second Division. On 24th August 1914, he, along with his A.D.M.S. and the 6th Field Ambulance retreated from Mons behind the 6th Brigade. They arrived at Maroillles at 5 p.m. the next day, where they were all due to rest after a long march. However, fighting broke out and so the unit left the town for a field outside. They were ordered back at 10.00 p.m. and after picking up wounded began retreating again to Prisches. Just before they left about 32 wounded had been collected to the regimental aid post of the Berkshires and were in need of assistance, so the Francis remained in Maroilles. At dawn of the 26th, he was hard at work treating the wounded, along with assistance of a priest and a young French lady, when shells began to burst amongst the houses. The three moved the wounded to the schoolhouse and continued to treat the wounded. Francis observed enemy cavalry and cyclists pass through the town, then the French Cavalry, and eventually Col Thompson, his A.D.M.S., along with Capt’s Priestley and Egan, and twelve men of the 6th Field Ambulance appeared, returning from Prisches. Having got the wounded away from Marsoilles, the detachment got lost, and after walking around in circles pitched up and fell into the hands of a German cavalry patrol in the early morning of the 27th. They were taken to Landrecies, where many other R.A.M.C. officers and O/Rs were held captive. On 29th August the captured units were marched to Bavai, where British sick and wounded were cared for by the French Red Cross Society. Francis, along with Capt Dwyer were left at the French Red Cross Hospital, while the remainder went onto Mons. On 10th September, both slipped out of Bavai and headed towards Valenciennes, finally making it to Lille. The Germans were patrolling the town but the two slipped away unseen and went onto Dunkirk. Having received assistance from the people of France, both were back with the British Expeditionary Force by October. From 1915 to 1919 he was Commandant of the R.A.M.C. School of Instruction and Officer Commanding the Depot R.A.M.C. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order “For distinguished service in the Field”. He acted under the rank of temporary Lieutenant Colonel from 4th October 1915, then gained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 29th September 1916. He was also created a Companion Order of St Michael & St George on 3rd June 1918. Francis went on to serve in India 1920-1924 - as Commanding Officer to the British Stationary Hospital, Rawalpindi 1920-1922, then Assistant Director of Medical Services, AHQ(1) from 1922-1924. On 31st December 1924 he gained the rank of Brevet Colonel, then served as Commanding Officer to the Cambridge Hospital at Aldershot 1926-1927. On 3rd June 1927 he gained the rank of Colonel, then served as Assistant Director of Medical Services at HQ London District 1927-1928, and as Deputy Director of Medical Services at HQ Northern Command 1928-1930. On 26th December 1930 he retired with pay, and ceased to be on the Roll of Officers from 26th December 1933. After World War Two broke out, Francis was re-employed in the rank of Major from 5th February 1940, his rank then restored to Colonel on 12th June 1940. He began his service at the R.A.M. College, as Assistant Commandant, becoming Commandant 1940-1946. He served under the tank of acting Major General from 13th March to 30th April 1946, then reverted to retirement with pay on 27th June 1946. He died at Millbank, London SW1. [Photograph from 'Methodist College, Belfast 1868 - 1938' courtesy of Nigel Henderson]

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