William Roy Irwin MBE DFC (2) BA BEd was born in Ripley Ontario (ON), which is situated about 20 miles north of Goderich ON.
In 1916 he joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and was sent to England. On arrival he was transferred to the Royal Air Force, called the Royal Flying Corps at that time. In April 1917 he graduated as a pilot and in November 1917 was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer.
After receiving his pilot wings, he was posted to 56 Squadron at Baizieux France and flew his first patrol on March 1, 1918, at the time the great German offensive of 1918 was getting underway.
The outcome of the war was still in doubt when at 5:00 a.m. on March 21st, 1918, through a blanket of heavy white fog, 64 German divisions attacked the Allied line on a 54 mile front between St. Quentin and Arras. It succeeded in advancing to within 10 miles of Amiens and reaching the Marne River 40 miles from Paris, but by the beginning of June the drive had petered out and the Allies were counterattacking all along the front.
By 28 August 1918, Captain Irwin had destroyed five enemy aircraft and was awarded his first Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his skill and valour.
On 15 September 1918, by which time he had eleven enemy aircraft to his credit, Irwin was wounded when four enemy aircraft pounced on him from above while he was attacking a "bait" in the form of a two seater German plane dawdling along beneath the clouds. He managed to elude his attackers and return to base safely.
On 23 September 1918, while still in hospital, Captain Irwin learned that he had been awarded a second DFC, in recognition of his total of eleven enemy aircraft destroyed.
Following a short period in hospital, he was sent to the Central Flying School at Upavon England as an instructor. When the war ended he was discharged and repatriated to Canada.
Between the wars, Irwin completed university education and taught high school in Saskatchewan (SK).
On 14 October 1921 Irwin was married at Weyburn SK.
At the beginning of WW 2, he enlisted in the RCAF and after taking a refresher course, was posted to No. 3 Elementary Flying School at Yorkton SK as an instructor.
He eventually was promoted to Chief Flying Instructor and took command of No. 3 Service Flying Training School at Calgary Alberta. On 1 March 1944, he was promoted to Group Captain and in recognition of his outstanding wartime service, he was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
He retired from the RCAF in August 1945 and later was appointed to the Board of Transport Commissioners in Ottawa. He died in an Ottawa hospital, on January 14, 1969. He was survived by his wife and one married daughter.