James Craig

Lieutenant James Craig of 7th Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles died on 10th May 1941. As well as a soldier, he was an Olympian and record-holding athelete.


James Craig


Lieutenant James Craig was a well-known solicitor in his hometown of Belfast and had been a sprinter representing Great Britain at the 1912 Olympic Games.

Lieutenant James Craig (115186) served in 7th Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles during the Second World War. He was the son of Richard James Craig and Mary Craig of Randalstown, Co. Antrim, and husband of Kathleen MC Craig of Ivacraig, Craigavad, Co. Down.

The 1901 Irish Census lists James living with his 44-year-old father and 29-year-old mother at 2 Shane Street, Randalstown, Co. Antrim. Also in the house are Lavinia Craig aged 9 years old, Jessie Campbell Craig aged 3 years old, William Charles Craig aged 2 years old, and a baby John Campbell Craig. The family has a 28-year-old servant named Sarah Hutchinson.

Craig’s education took place at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Belfast, and at Queen’s University, Belfast. He was well known as one of the best athletes in Ulster, setting many sprint records during his time as a student and in the army during The Great War. He represented Ireland in 100-yard and 220-yard races and received a call up to the Great Britain team for the 1912 Olympics Games.

His 100-yard record was 10.1 seconds and as of 1941, his records at both RBAI and QUB still stood. He maintained a close relationship with the North of Ireland Athletic Association, having been their Chairman. He had also been President of the Queen’s University Athletic Association.

Military Service

James served in the Royal Irish Rifles in The Great War and was twice was mentioned in despatches. He was also wounded twice and invalided in 1917. After returning from war, James qualified as a solicitor and worked in Co. Antrim. In 1929, he became an Assistant (Petty Sessions) Solicitor for the Belfast Corporation. The corporation was a forerunner of the Belfast City Council.

In May 1921, Craig married Kathleen Northey, the daughter of the late Reverend Joseph Northey. The couple had a young daughter. James died on active service on 10th May 1941 aged 46 years old.

James Craig’s grave is in Section G2, Grave 593 of Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast. His name features on the Queen’s University War Memorial, Belfast and on the Royal Courts of Justice War Memorial, Chichester Street, Belfast.

Reverend LW Martin of Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church, Co. Down conducted a funeral service at 1315hrs on 13th May 1941. In attendance were members of North of Ireland Athletics Association, Queen’s University Athletic Association, Incorporated Law Society of Northern Ireland, and Royal Belfast Academical Institution. Attendees also included Town Clerk Mr. John Archer, Deputy Town Clerk Mr. JF McKinstry, Mr. TJ McKeown and Mr. S Love of Belfast Corporation, and members of the Royal Ulster Rifles.