Lot Archive


№ 232


27 September 1994

Hammer Price:

The Great War trio to Second Lieutenant A.H. Irwin, 8th Rajputs, who was killed in action in the Mohmand raid at Shabkadr on the North West Frontier of India in April 1915.

1914-15 STAR (2.Lieut., 8/Rajputs); BRITISH WAR AND VICTORY MEDALS (2.Lieut.) nearly extremely fine and very rare (3)

Killed in action at Shabkadr, N.W. Frontier, 18 April 1915, aged 18.

Andrew Herbert Irwin was the only son of the late Dr. Andrews and Mrs. Irwin, of Tientsin, China, where he was born. He was successful in the Sandhurst Entrance Examination held in June 1914, before the war and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant, Indian Army, on December 22nd. He sailed for India on January 27th, passing through the Suez Canal just after the fight there, and on his arrival at Peshawar was attached to the 8th Rajputs. The fight in which he fell was not his baptism of fire.

As a child of three and a half he went through the horrors of the siege of Tientsin during the Boxer rising of 1900. In childhood he conceived a great admiration for the Indian regiments, and his ambition had always been the North-West Frontier. He was a great lover of nature, and especially of mountains, and his letters showed a keen appreciation of the beauty and majesty of the Himalayas and the Frontier scenery. It is a pathetic fact that in one of his last letters he said, 'I would like to be always near these magnificent mountains. They are so splendid and grand.' Now he lies there at their feet, where he wished to be. On April 14th the Peshawar Brigade were ordered out to Shabkadr, a border post some 19 miles distant, owing to information that Mohmand tribesmen were collecting to raid our territory. On the morning of the 18th the 8th Rajputs were sent on ahead and, driving back small forces of the enemy, reached the foothills before midday. All went well for a time, though several men were wounded. Then the enemy seem to have brought up very suddenly a fresh body of men, and they began to surround some companies, necessitating the retreat of the regiment to rejoin the rest of the brigade. At this point poor Irwin was shot dead, two other officers in these companies being killed just afterwards, and a third wounded. The dead were buried next day in the little cemetery at Shabkadr, and the funeral was attended by all the officers of the force. His Captain wrote: 'I am very glad to hear your son was so happy with us. His death was a great loss to the Regiment, as he was so keen and hard working. He never minded how much work he had to do; the more I gave him the better he was pleased.' (Ref 'Tonbridge School and the Great War of 1914-1919').