Sunday 29 January 2012

Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant-Major) James Kemp Irwin, DCM

Born on 4 April 1897 in Norwich, Ontario - son of Elizabeth Irwin, Waterford, Ontario - at the time of his enlistment in 1916: present address in Dutton, Ontario; trade as bank clerk; single; no current or previous military service; Church of England; height of 5 feet 11.25 inches; chest of 36 inches fully expanded; medium complexion; brown eyes; dark brown hair.

Joined the 91st Battalion, CEF, in St. Thomas, Ontario, on 10 March 1916 (number 190104) - taken on the strength of the 38th Battalion, CEF, on 20 or 21 August 1916 - struck off strength of the 38th Battalion to attend the Officers' Training Course as a cadet on 27 October 1918 - commission not received before the Armistice was concluded.

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal - official citation: "For conspicuous gallantry and initiative in the attack on the Drocourt-Queant line on September 2, 1918. During the attack he moved in advance of the company under intense machine-gun fire through the wire. In the assault with the battalion on the left he saved a critical situation by manoeuvering a platoon and clearing up an enemy machine-gun nest. When his officers had become casualties he led the company to the final objective and consolidated." - unit recommendation dated 7 September 1918: "For gallantry, as C.S.M. of 'D' Company, during Scarpe Operations, Sept 1st and 2nd 1918."

Recommended for an unnamed award on 3 July 1917: "This N.C.O. rendered most valuable service while in charge of patrols and in assisting Sgt. Nunney in his work."

(Many thanks to Paul Freeman and the Elgin County Archives for the image of WO II Irwin).

(sources: Library and Archives Canada (, online attestation papers; Canadian War Museum, 19740281-001, Manu 58F 2 3, 207th Canadian Infantry Battalion and 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Nominal Roll; The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum, A400-0007, Master Personnel List for the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force; Canadian War Museum, 19680229-001, Manu 58C 1 2.18, Honours and Awards, 38th Battalion (Records of recommendations for honours and awards and mentioned in dispatches 19161121 19190117))

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