A Lisburn man renowned as the highest ranking Ulsterman to win a Victoria Cross in World War One was recently remembered at a service of thanksgiving.
A British medical doctor, malariologist and soldier, who spent much of his childhood in Lisburn, Brigadier John Alexander Sinton won the VC in January, 1916.
The recent service in Cookstown First Presbyterian Church marked the 100th anniversary of the award and gave thanks for the life of a man hailed as one of Ulster’s true heroes.
The Brigadier was born on December 2, 1884, and from 1890 he spent his childhood days in Lisburn, where he was brought up with his six siblings and attended the Nicholson Memorial School, Lisburn before going on to grammar school at RBAI in Belfast.
It has been suggested that stories of famed Lisburn man Major General John Nicholson perhaps inspired a young Sinton to enter military service in India after graduating from the medical school at what was then Queen’s College in Belfast.
In January 1916 he won the Victoria Cross for displaying tremendous courage under constant fire, while himself wounded.
He saved the lives of many of his men during a battle with the Turkish army in Mesopotamia.
The Brigadier is still remembered in Lisburn, The Sinton Medical and Dental Centre at Thiepval Barracks having been named in his honour.
Among those to attend the service in Cookstown, where Brigadier Sinton died in 1956, was Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
“As local MP and Chairman of the Northern Ireland WWI Centenary Committee,” he said afterwards, “I was delighted to attend the special service in Cookstown to honour the memory of Lisburn man Brigadier John Alexander Sinton, who was the highest ranking Ulsterman to win a Victoria Cross in the First World War.
“In winning a VC, Brigadier Sinton displayed the utmost courage and saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers despite having been wounded himself.
“Brigadier Sinton went on to have a distinguished military career and again served with the armed forces in the Second World War before retiring to live in the Cookstown area. Members of his family were present at the service in the First Presbyterian Church which was organised by the Cookstown branch of the Royal British Legion.
“It is important that we remember those like John Sinton who laid their lives on the line to defend the freedom of our country.
“Lisburn can be very proud of a man who dedicated his professional career to the care and protection of others in such a courageous manner.”