Birney, John Gordon

He was the only child of the late Lieutenant John Ramsay Birney, R.E. (C, 1885-1889), of Redcastle, Kirkcudbright and Sarah Duncroft Birney (daughter of George Worthington of Hollinwood, Lancashire). His father died when his son was still a baby and so when his grandfather, Colonel John Birney, died in 1901, he succeeded to the Lairdship of the Redcastle Estate.

He came to Winchester from Temple Grove, Eastbourne in 1911 and entered Sandhurst in April 1915, being gazetted in the following September to the Highland Light Infantry.

He left England in February 1916 to join the 1st Battalion in Mesopotamia, was invalided to India shortly afterwards, but returned at the end of the year in time to take part in the victorious advance upon Kut. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st January 1917 and fell on January 11th 1917, his 19th birthday.   It is unclear exactly how he died, but a letter from a fellow officer to his mother says:   “It was so characteristic of your dear son, whose great unselfishness we all knew, to die thinking of others, and refusing to allow another to endanger his life for his sake”.     He was buried on the battlefield but in time his grave was lost. He is commemorated on panels 35 and 64 of the Basra Memorial.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Birney
  • Forenames or initials: John Gordon
  • House: C
  • Years in School: 1911-1915
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Regiment: Highland Light Infantry
  • Date of Birth: 11th January 1898
  • Date of Death: 11th January 1917
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer F6
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Basra Memorial