Sinton, John Alexander (1884–1956), Indian Army medical officer and VC, was born 2 December 1884 in British Columbia, Canada, son of Walker Sinton of Lisburn, Co. Antrim, and his wife Isabella, daughter of Allan Pringle of Derrymore House, Newry, Co. Down. In 1890 the family returned to Ireland, settling in Lisburn, and he was educated at the Nicholson Memorial School in Lisburn and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution before attending QCB, where he studied medicine. A brilliant student, he was awarded a scholarship in his second year and graduated MB and B.Ch. with first-class honours (1908). In 1910 he was awarded the diploma of public health and was appointed Riddell demonstrator of bacteriology at Queen's. He was also resident pupil and house surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. He then attended the School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool and took first place (1911) in the entrance examination for the Indian Medical Service (IMS). Commissioned as a medical officer in the IMS, he was posted to the 31st (Duke of Connaught's Own) Lancers at Kohat. At the outbreak of the first world war, he transferred to the 37th Dogras, a regiment that was part of the Indian Expeditionary Force and under orders for the Persian Gulf.
In 1916 he served in Mesopotamia with the force that was trying to relieve the besieged British garrison at Kut. On 21 January 1916, during an action at the Orah ruins on the banks of the River Tigris, he went out under heavy fire to the aid of wounded soldiers. Despite being wounded in both arms and in the side, he refused to go to the field hospital for treatment and remained in the field attending to the wounded. He eventually recovered from his wounds, and in June 1916 was gazetted with the VC, his citation mentioning his actions at Orah and also the bravery he displayed in three previous actions. In January 1918 he was presented with his medal at Delhi by the viceroy. He was also awarded the Russian Order of St George for his wartime services and was mentioned in dispatches four times.
After the first world war, he served in the campaign in Transcaspia (1918–19) and was promoted to brevet major. He later served in Afghanistan (1919), Waziristan (1919–20), and Mahsud (1920). Mentioned in dispatches two more times, he was awarded an OBE following the Waziristan campaign. He remained in the army till 1938, when he retired with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. At the outbreak of the second world war, he returned to service and was appointed (1942) consultant malariologist at the war office. He finished the war as a brigadier-general, with a further mention in dispatches.
Retiring from the army for a second time, he subsequently served as director of the malaria survey of India and as a pro-chancellor of QUB. During the course of his career he was awarded numerous honours including an honorary MD from QUB (1919), the Bisset-Hawkins medal of the Royal College of Physicians, London (1944), and the Mary Kingsley medal of the Liverpool school of tropical medicine (1949). He was a fellow of the Royal Society. A JP and DL for Co. Tyrone, he was made high sheriff of the county in 1953. Retiring to Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, he died at his residence there, Slaghtfreedan Lodge, on 25 March 1956. He was buried, with full military honours, at Claggan presbyterian churchyard in Cookstown. His VC is in the Royal Army Medical Corps Museum in Keogh Barracks, Aldershot.
During the course of his career in India he wrote several medical textbooks, including A bibliography of malaria in India (1929), Suggestions with regard to the prevention of the spread of yellow fever to India (1934), Man-made malaria in India (1936), What malaria costs India (1939), and Memorandum on measures for control of mosquito nuisances in Great Britain (1940). In 1929 he edited Records of the malarial survey of India. He also published numerous papers in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
He married (1923) Edith, daughter of Edwin Steuart Martin of Azamgarh, India. They had one daughter, Eleanor Watson, who was living in South Africa at the time of his death.