Sergeant Irvin Hinchliffe, 2666, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd/4th Battalion
Irvin Hinchliffe (also known as Irwin, or Irving Hinchcliffe) was born in Ossett in early 1878, the son of stone mason William Hinchcliffe and Mary (nee Grainge) who married in 1855 in Hunslet, Leeds and had eight children. Irvin was the seventh child and second son and all of the children were born in Ossett. In 1881, the Hinchliffe family lived on Church Lane, Ossett moving to Headlands by 1891, where Irvin, now aged 13, was already working as a mill hand.
In early 1900, Irvin and Batley-born Jane Annie Hepworth were married in the Dewsbury Registration District and they began their married life at Grove Street, Healey Road, Ossett. Like his father, Irvin was now working as a stone mason. In 1911 Irvin Hinchliffe was living with his wife, Jane Annie, and three children, all girls, aged 6, 4 and 2 years, at 7, King Street, Station Road, Ossett.
After Irvin Hinchliffe's death, his widow Jane Annie re-married 52 year-old local man, Andrew Megson in early 1919, and the couple lived in Hilda Street, off Station Road, Ossett.
The 2nd/4th Battalion of KOYLI was formed at Wakefield on the 30 September 1914 as a second line unit. On the 1st March 1915, they moved to Bulwell and attached to 187th Brigade in 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division. They moved again in April 1915 to Strensall, York and then on in May to Beverley, going on in November to Gateshead, January 1916 to Larkhill and in June 1916 to Flixton Park near Bungay, Suffolk. The formation moved again in October 1916 to Wellingborough and landed at Le Havre on the 15 January 1917.
The "Ossett Observer" 1 had this two-part obituary for Irvin Hinchliffe:
"Tragic Death Of An Ossett Sergeant - Drowned Off The East Coast - A telegram from an officer attached to the K.O.Y.L.I., training in Suffolk, conveyed the news to Ossett yesterday that Sergeant Irvin Hinchliffe, of 7, King-street, Ossett had been drowned at an East coast town, some 12 or 15 miles from the place where for some months the local Territorials had been training. The telegram was directed to the vicar of South Ossett, the Rev. A. L. Burnham, requesting him to break the sad news to the soldier's widow. It said the sergeant had been accidentally drowned but supplied no details.
Sergeant Hinchliffe was 38 years of age. He had served for a period in the old Volunteers when quite a young man, and became a member of the National Reserve. When war broke out he was not long in responding to the call for men. He joined the Territorials in October 1914, and had been training ever since. The fact that he had reached the rank of sergeant indicates that he was a good soldier. In civilian life he was a mason, and was last employed at Wakefield Prison, in the erection of houses for the prison officials. He leaves three young children.
The news came with a greater shock to Mrs. Hinchliffe, because she had only a few days ago returned from a fortnight's visit to her husband in Suffolk, being accompanied by Mrs. Taylor, of Flushdyke, whose husband is a sergeant in the same battalion.
Sergeant Hinchliffe on Monday accompanied his wife a short distance by rail on the way home. She says that she would have stayed longer, had it not been that the battalion were next day going on a two or three days' march. Mrs. Taylor yesterday morning received a letter from her husband, posted on Wednesday at a coast town 20 or 30 miles below the town where Sergeant Hinchliffe is reported to have drowned the following day.
The husband of Mrs. Hinchliffe's sister, Sergeant J. Chappell, of Belle Vue, Wakefield was killed in France about two months ago, and his brother has been wounded."
Then a week later:
"The Drowning Of An Ossett Sergeant - A Bathing Accident On The East Coast - Funeral Attended By His Comrades - Fuller information of how Sergeant Irvin Hinchliffe, of the K.O.Y.L.I. (Territorials), whose home is at 7 King-street, Ossett, met his death by drowning on the East Coast is now to hand. The sergeant, it seems, on Thursday went to the coast town from the camp of the Territorials some miles inland, for the purpose of visiting the dentist, and was accompanied by a private named Pettitt. They bathed in the sea together. Pettitt had turned away with the intention of leaving the water, when his attention was arrested by the deceased sergeant, who was in difficulties. Unknown to the two men, the beach sloped sharply downwards; they had been bathing on a sort of a shelf, and deceased had got over the edge of it and into deep water. Pet tit did his best to get to him, but failed. He tried to attract the attention of others, but before help could be secured, deceased had been washed away. The body was not recovered until the following (Friday) afternoon.
Colonel Hind commanding the battalion, in a letter conveying the sad news to Mrs Hinchliffe, mentioned that he had been to Yarmouth, and wrote; 'I am deeply grieved and tender to you and your family my very sincere sympathy. During the time your husband served with us, he had earned the sincere affection and respect of both the officers, the N.C.O.s and men of the battalion, and his loss will be greatly felt. My wife asks me to express to you her sincere sympathy.'
Capt. Smith, commanding the deceased's company also wrote: 'I am writing to tell you how sorry we are at the death of your husband. We all liked him, and the willing and conscientious way in which he always did his duty has been simply invaluable to me since I took command of the company. He was one of the best, most hard-working sergeants in the battalion. Please believe that you have my deepest sympathy, and that of all the company officers, and do not hesitate to write to me if I can do anything to help you.'
The body of the deceased was conveyed to Ossett, enclosed in a beautiful coffin, and the funeral, which took place at Holy Trinity Parish Churchyard, on Monday afternoon, was attended by Lieut. Hudson and eight men of deceased's company, who in making the long journey to Ossett, had to leave their camp on Sunday evening, and travel for sixteen miles by motor car. Several of the deceased's old comrades in the National Reserves, who are now stationed at Lofthouse internment camp, also attended the funeral, under Colour-sergeant P. Nelson. Among the men from deceased's battalion was Private Pettitt, who was with him when he met his death. Wreaths were sent by Colonel and Mrs. Hind, the officers, the N.C.O.s and men, and the sergeant's mess. The officiating minister was the Rev. A.L. Burnham, vicar of South Ossett, where the deceased as a youth was formerly a member of the parish church choir."
Sergeant Irvin Hinchcliffe, aged 38 years, husband of Jane Annie Megson (formerly Hinchliffe), of 3, Hilda St., Station Road, Ossett, died on the 31st August 1916 and is buried at grave reference 9. 18. at the Ossett (Holy Trinity) Churchyard,2
1. "Ossett Observer", 2nd September and 9th September 1916