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The Airmen's Stories - F/O B W J D'Arcy-Irvine


Brian William Jesse D'Arcy-Irvine was born on 19th April 1918 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, the son of Henry Cockburn D'Arcy-Irvine (1886-1969) and Mildred Cicely Carleton D'Arcy-Irvine (nee Richardson 1888-1978).

The family were from Irvinestown, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Henry's brother, Charles William D'Arcy-Irvine, was killed on 6th August 1915 serving as a Captain with the 6th Battalion, the Leinster Regiment.

British Regiments at Gallipoli (Westlake 1996) records:

The battalion landed at Anzac Cove on the 5th of August pm.

On the 9th A&D Companies relieved the New Zealanders in the line after nightfall with B&C in support. Enemy attacked at daybreak. According to eye witnesses they were warned of the attack by a New Zealander who came running down the hill crying "fix your bayonets boys, they're coming!". The Leinsters led bt Lt. Col.J Craske DSO then charged up the hill without waiting to put their puttees or jackets on. The Turks were driven back in hand to hand fighting, Lt. Col. Craske wounded, international tennis player Capt. JC Parke also among the casualties. No.9 Platoon under Lt. J Barnwell sent out to clear enemy snipers after dark.

Positions held against repeated attacks during the night. Overrun by large numbers, losing half their strength. Enemy driven back by close range fire and bayonet charges.

The history of the regiment records final enemy attack of the night met by counter charge "With a ringing yell the line of bayonets surged forward against the foe...the Turks faltered as the charge swept against them, and the Leinsters were at last able to take revenge for the losses of the night."

Captain CW D'Arcy-Irvine and 2nd Lt. JVY Willington noted as leading D Company." they were cut off and have never been heard of again". Enemy driven back. Rest of the 11th recorded as "Quiet" Relieved and withdrew back to beaches.

He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey, overlooking the Dardanelles.


Brian's father had left Northern Ireland with his wife to take up a position as a rubber planter in Serdang, Kedah, Malaya.

After the death of his son Henry was determined to serve in uniform, though he was in a reserved occupation. Unable to return to the UK, he travelled to New Zealand and enlisted in the RNZAF, serving as a Flying Officer in Wellington.

Otherwise he may have been swept up in the Japanese invasion in 1941. Presumably his was an administrative position as he was then 54 years old. He returned to Malaya in 1946.


Brian was educated at Stowe School and went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read Architecture. When not studying he spent much of his time with his mother's family in Fermanagh.

He was a member of the University Air Squadron in 1938 and was commissioned in the RAFVR on 25th October 1938.

D'Arcy-Irvine is pictured above at Cranwell in November 1939, second from the right in the middle row.


Called up for full-time service at the outbreak of war, D'Arcy-Irvine went to SFTS Cranwell on 22nd October 1939. He was on 2 Squadron of No. 5 Course, after completing his training he arrived at 5 OTU, Aston Down on 22nd April 1940.

After converting to Hurricanes he was posted on 14th May to 257 Squadron, then about to be formed at Hendon.



On 8th August 1940 D'Arcy-lrvine was reported 'Missing' after a combat with Me109s of III/JG27 off St. Catherine's Point in Hurricane P3058. In 1980 the squadron Intelligence Officer contacted the family and said that one of 257's pilots reported that he had evaded a Me109 on his tail after D'Arcy-Irvine had radioded a warning to him but he was not heard from again.

He was a very able artist, often of birds and aeroplanes, having been taught a lot by his great friend, Peter Scott, the naturalist.

He was 22 and is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 5.


Runnymede image courtesy of Dean Sumner


Photographs courtesy of the late Ann Brady/Kasteel (nee D'Arcy-Irvine), sister of Brian D'Arcy-Irvine and via Annabel Caddle.




Because of his connection with Fermanagh D'Arcy-Irvine is also commemorated on Enniskillen War Memorial (below).


Additional NI research courtesy of Joe Gleeson.


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