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Blue Plaque Unveiled for John Alexander Sinton VC

28 March 2017

The Ulster History Circle commemorateD John Alexander Sinton VC, FRS, (1884-1956), Soldier, Physician and Malariologist.

The plaque was unveiled by the Brigadier’s grandson, Nial Watson, 61 years to the date of his grandfather’s funeral with full military honours, on 28th March 1956.

John Alexander Sinton who was born in Canada, and who at an early age was brought by his parents to live in Ireland, was a remarkable man; a far seeing man of many parts and varied experience. He had the unique distinction of being the only holder of a Victoria Cross, who was also a Fellow of the Royal Society and was a legend in his own life time.

Educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and at Queen’s University Belfast, where he studied medicine, he joined the Medical Service of the Indian Army.

Captain Sinton was awarded the VC. for the most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on 21st January 1916 in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) where he attended to the wounded under heavy fire, whilst wounded himself. Although shot through both arms and through the side, he refused to go to hospital and remained as long as daylight lasted, attending to his duties under heavy fire. In three previous actions, Captain Sinton displayed the utmost bravery.

Apart from his military career, Brigadier Sinton (1943) achieved international pre-eminence as malariologist and published over 200 scientific papers (many of them about malaria).

A member of the Senate of Queen’s University, he also served as a JP, High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant of County Tyrone.  He died at his home at Slaghtfreedan Lodge, Cookstown.  In an obituary in the British Medical Journal, Col. H.W. Mulligan observed that ‘Sinton had an exceptionally quick, receptive and rentative brain, and his greatness sprang not so much from his unusual intellectual gifts as from the simple qualities of absolute integrity and tremendous industry’.

Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle comments, “John Alexander Sinton VC, FRS is the only person ever to have received the highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross, and also to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society.  The Ulster History Circle is delighted to commemorate this distinguished soldier and physician with a Blue Plaque to his unique achievements.  The Circle would like to thank Lissan Church of Ireland for their assistance, and we are grateful to the Ulster-Scots Agency for their financial support towards the plaque”.

A full biography on John Alexander Sinton VC, FRS can be accessed on

Contact – Maud Hamill.  UHC. 07766823535./

Information for Editors.

The Ulster History Circle is a voluntary, not for profit charity which puts up blue plaques in public places across the nine counties of Ulster, to celebrate people of achievement. A person is not considered for a blue plaque unless they have been dead for a minimum of twenty years, or would have reached their 100th birthday. The Circle’s work on its Blue Plaque programme is carried out entirely by a small team of volunteer members, and the Circle relies on local authorities, organisations, societies, businesses and individuals to support its plaques as it has no funds of its own.  There is no similar body doing such work through the whole island of Ireland.