Charles Irwin VC

b. 1824 Manorhamilton, Ireland. d. 08/04/1873 Newtonbutler, County Fermanagh, Ireland.

Charles Irwin (1824-1873) was born in Manorhamilton, County Leitrim, Ireland in 1824. He was a cutler by trade and joined the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment at Sligo on 4th September 1842. He served in the Burma War of 1852-1853 and throughout the Indian Mutiny.

Charles Irwin VC

By the time the Mutiny had begun, he had transferred to the 53rd Regiment of Foot (later King’s Shropshire Light Infantry) though was still a private. On 16th November 1857, he was part of the assault of the 53rd Regiment on the Secundra Bagh in Lucknow. Early on in the assault, he was severely wounded through the right shoulder, but he continued forward, and was one of the first men who entered the buildings under heavy fire. Irwin was selected for the VC by his fellow men of the regiment. He was recommended for and awarded the VC on 24th December 1858.

Irwin was presented with his VC in India in 1859, and at the conclusion of the Mutiny, he decided to continue in service in the East and transferred into the 87th Regiment of Foot (Royal Irish Fusiliers) which was on its way to Hong Kong. In 1864, at the age of 40, Irwin sought his discharge after 21 years of service. He then returned to Britain and was admitted as an out-pensioner of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Soon afterwards, he returned to his native Ireland, where he died, aged just 49, on 8th April 1873 in Newtonbutler, County Fermanagh. He was buried in St Mark’s Churchyard, Magheraveely, County Fermanagh, though sadly the only name readable on the headstone is that of his brother, Edward. A new headstone for Irwin was placed in April 2018. Irwin’s medals are held and displayed at the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry Museum, Shrewsbury Castle.





Mark Campbell – Images of the new Irwin VC headstone and the accompanying programme.