A Soldier and a Poet – Captain William John Tipping
Updated: Jun 13
William was born on 17 February 1888 at Cookstown, County Tyrone. He was the son of Royal Irish Constabulary inspector John Tipping and Eliza Tipping (née McClintock). William attended national school in Ballyjamesduff, County Cavan.
William is recorded on the 1911 Census as a boarder in a house at Beechfield Terrace, Clontarf, County Dublin. His profession is listed as ‘clerk of second division civil service’.
William was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the 10th Battalion (South Battalion), Royal Irish Rifles on 20 May 1915. He previously served in the 17th (reserve) Battalion. He went overseas to France in October 1915.
On 17 February 1917, by special appointment Tipping was transferred to the general staff list and was transferred to the Intelligence Corps. Later he was promoted to temporary lieutenant. On 1 February 1918 he was promoted to temporary captain. On 1 January 1919 Captain Tipping was presented with the Order of the British Empire for valuable services rendered in connection with military operations in Italy by King George V at St James’s Palace. Captain Tipping was also awarded the Italian Croce di Guerra and Mentioned in Dispatches twice. For his Great War service in France and Italy he also received the following campaign medals; 1914-15 Star, British War medal and Victory medal. Tipping relinquished his commission on completion of his service on 18 December 1919.
After the war Tipping married Franziska Schimen, a native of Baden bei Wien, Austria. He worked as an inspector of taxes in Dublin Castle and lived with his wife in Terenure, County Dublin.
Franziska died at home on 20 October 1953. Her funeral was held at St Mary’s Church, Crumlin, and she was interred in old Esker Cemetery, Lucan. The epitaph comprises of a poem; my darling was a gentle breeze, caress of summer’s day, my darling was the light on leaves, that dance in summer’s sway. This brief poem was probably composed by William.
William died on 17 May 1963, and was buried with his wife in Lucan. His obituary in the Irish Times recorded his military career and noted that in his spare time he wrote poetry and was a keen angler. He was survived by his brother Ralph, who lived in Summerhill, County Meath. Ralph was previously a constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary. By pure chance I came across his grave in Clara County Offaly a number of years ago and a picture is included for reference.