Private Ivan Irwin – C 36763 — ACTIVE SERVICE (World War II)
On April 11, 1942, Ivan Irwin completed the Attestation Paper for the Canadian Active Service Force (CASF) in Kingston, Ontario. He was 20 years, 4 months old when, as a single man, he enlisted for the duration of the War. Ivan was born in Lindsay, Ontario and gave his birth-date as December 15, 1921. He did not have any previous Military Reserve experience. He completed grade VII and quit at age 14 to work with his father, on the family farm, until he was 16 years old. Ivan was 5′ 4½” tall with a 35½” chest, had hazel eyes and light brown hair and weighed 118 pounds. His Medical Examination, completed in Peterborough, Ontario on April 10, 1942, indicated that in addition to a fractured nose and contracture of the flexor muscle of the 4th and 5th finger of the left hand, Ivan had an 8” long scar on his left forearm from an old shotgun injury. He indicated that he had not suffered from any diseases such as; rheumatism, heart, kidney, stomach, etc. As a result of these findings, Ivan was deemed fit for service with the CASF. He listed his next-of-kin as his mother, Mrs. Ellen Irwin of Lakefield. Ivan Irwin signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation, April 11, 1942, at No 3A District Depot, Kingston, Ontario. He was then enrolled as a Private (Pte) with Service Number C-36763.
On April 11, 1942, Pte Irwin was taken-on-strength with No 3A District Depot (DD) as a reinforcement with the Royal Canadian Ordinance Corps (RCOC). He was struck-off-strength from No 3A DD, on May 15, 1942, and taken-on-strength with No 31 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre [CA(B)TC], located in Cornwall, Ontario, on May 16, 1942. July 1, 1942, Pte Irwin was transferred from RCOC Reinforcements (Reinf) to the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC) Reinf. Pte Irwin was struck-off-strength from CA(B)TC No 31 on transfer to Valcartier, Québec (RCASC) Reinf, July 14, 1942. He was taken-on-strength with 6th Divisional Petrol Company (Div Petrol Coy), RCASC, on July 15, 1942. A note on File indicates, that on October 2, 1942, Pte Irwin was admitted to Camp Valcartier Military Hospital, but no reason is given for the admittance nor his discharge.
Pte Irwin was granted a furlough from October 5, 1942, to October 18, 1942. On November 4, 1942, He was struck-off-strength from 6th Div Petrol Coy RCASC, on transfer to No 5 District Depot (DD) Valcartier. November 5, 1942, Pte Irwin was taken-on-strength with No 5 District Depot. On November 17, 1942, Pte Irwin was struck-off-strength from No 5 DD, and discharged due to being unable to meet the required Military physical standards. During Basic Training, Pte Irwin had experienced considerable difficulty with his left hand and arm, when participating in rifle drill. He also had difficulties with “breathing and dizziness” during periods of exertion. The Confirmation of Discharge was signed by a Lt Colonel FC Magee. Upon discharge Irwin was given credit with having served 220 days with the CASF, he was also granted a civilian clothing allowance of $35.00 and was awarded a rehabilitation grant.
Private Ivan Irwin – C 36763 — ACTIVE SERVICE (World War II)
On July 26, 1943, Ivan Irwin completed his second Attestation Paper for the Royal Canadian Army, when he re-enlisted, in Toronto, Ontario. On this date, Irwin signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation, and was taken-on-strength with No 2 DD Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC), R Wing, No 3 Coy. Private Irwin was enrolled with the same Service Number C-36763.
On July 28, 1943, a Captain N. Richman, of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC) states: “This individual, joined the Army in 1942, had no trouble to mention while driving a truck, but when put on rifle drill, the fingers would go numb, and arm would ache. Was finally boarded out, December 1942, eight months after joining. This boy was driving a milk wagon after discharge but selective service ordered him to a factory, therefore he wishes to re-enlist”. Captain Richman goes on, “this disability should not be categorized lower than 2 on Pulhems*, but in view of past Army experience, would recommend lowest overseas category”. When Ivan Irwin reenlisted, he was categorized as U-3, due to his physical issues. There is also, a note on File stating: “this individual is keen to serve overseas, thus his reenlistment”. *Pulhems is a system of medical evaluation used by the military: P – physical capability; U – upper extremities; L – lower extremities; H – hearing and ears; E – eyes; M – emotional stability. A rating of “1” is the top rating.
It is reported that, this time around, Irwin completed the Basic Training with no medical issues. August 16, 1943, Pte Irwin is struck-off-strength from No 2 DD and on August 19, 1943 was taken-on-strength with A 20 Training Centre (TC), Red Deer, Alberta. There is a note on the File indicating that on November 4, 1943, Pte Irwin “paraded as a Volunteer for Parachute Troops, but based on his U3 Medical Category, he was deemed unsuitable for this branch of the Service”. On November 26, 1943 Pte Irwin was entitled to receive an increase in pay to $1.40 per day. On December 3, 1943, he qualified as a Class III Driver (IC wheeled). He was granted New Year’s Leave from December 29, 1943 to January 3, 1944, followed by a Furlough from January 3 to 16, 1944. January 24, 1944, a notation to his File by a Captain JR Davidson states: “Reported from Motor Transport Company, as a very good driver. This man’s Pulhems are too low for use as a driver. Examination of the foregoing and interview indicate suitability for O/S (Overseas) in the RCASC (Base) General Duties”. On January 26, 1944, a note indicates “individual is entitled to receive increased rate of Pay of $1.50 per diem”. On January 27, 1944, Pte Irwins’ Pulhems were upgraded to U 2, allowing him to go overseas. Following this upgrade of category, on February 15, 1944, Pte Irwin was struck-off strength from A 20 TC.
February 16, 1944, Pte Irwin is at Debert Training Camp, Nova Scotia. Here he is taken-on-strength with No 1 Training Brigade Group (Trg Bde Grp). On March 1, 1944, he was admitted to Debert Military Hospital and discharged on April 5, 1944. It appears, from Medical Records, this hospitalization was due to “atypical pneumonia”. This hospital stay was followed by a 14 day sick leave, on a subsistence allowance of $1.25 per day. April 27, 1944, Pte Irwin was, once again, admitted to Debert Military Hospital, where he would remain until May 25, 1944, when he was released. During this hospitalization, Pte Irwin was placed in isolation, when he was diagnosed with “atypical scarlet fever”.
Upon transfer to Serial 1134, on June 24, 1944, Pte Irwin was struck-off-strength from the Trg Bde Grp, and he embarked from Canada. On July 4, 1944, he was taken-on-strength with 1st RCASC Reinforcement Unit (RU). July 7, 1944, Pte Irwin disembarked in England. He qualified as RCASC Driver Class III (IC wheeled), on July 14, 1944. He was struck-off-strength from 1st RCASC, Repatriation Unit (RU) and taken-on-strength to X4 List (13 Bn) RCASC. On July 29, 1944, he embarked from England and disembarked in France on July 30, 1944. He was now struck-off strength from X 4 list on August 8, 1944, and taken-on-strength with 33 Canadian Corps Transport Company, on August 9, 1944. Pte Irwin would serve with this Unit until April 13, 1945.
The role of the RCASC was to provide support to Canadian soldiers, wherever they went; be it training in Canada or the UK, the Italian or North-West Europe Campaigns. Pte Irwin was involved in the North-West Europe Campaign. The RCASC moved supplies from the rear areas to the front-lines. They delivered all rations, ammunition, petroleum products, and other essentials. They did so with a variety of vehicles ranging from Jeeps, ¾ ton, 2½ ton, three to ten ton trucks, and forty ton tank transporters. Canadian innovation came into play, when the forty ton tank transporters were equipped with side carriers, allowing them to transport extra supplies, as well as the tanks. The Motto of the RCASC is: “Nil Sine Labore” or “Nothing without Labour”.
Based on Pte Irwin’s arrival in France, the end of July 1944, he may have taken part in Operation Totalize, involving 2nd Canadian Corps of the 1st Canadian Army, and which took place from August 8, to August 13, 1944. Leading up to this Operation, over a period of a day and a half, the RCASC moved 80,000 tons of ammunition, in addition to troops and other supplies to the front. As the War moved through France, Belgium, Holland and finally into Germany, the RCASC ably supported the Canadian Army in every phase of it’s advance.
There are 2 notations, one on April 13, 1945 and April 20, 1945, indicating Pte Irwin was now attached to 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (CAB), 84th Company. A number of entries in his Military File, around this time period, cannot be deciphered due to poor hand writing and photocopying. On May 28, 1945 Irwin is struck-off-strength from the 2nd CAB and is taken-on-strength to X3 List RCASC. There are notes in his File indicating that on May 28, 1945 he was at the No 88 British General Hospital (at Tilburg, The Netherlands) and on May 29, 1945, at the No 101 British General Hospital (at Hererlee, Belgium) “with physical issues dating back to the old shotgun injury to his left arm”. X-rays taken on May 31, 1945 show the old fracture that had fused and the presence of “buckshot pellets” in the arm. On June 2, 1945, following an examination, Captain Lockie, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, recommended that Pte Irwin be evacuated to a Canadian Hospital. It appears that he was admitted to the 12th Canadian Hospital on June 5, 1945. On June 17, 1945, upon embarkation from Europe, he was struck-off-strength from X3 List. According to a note in his File, he was admitted to No 4 Canadian Hospital, Aldershot, UK, on June 18, 1945. At this time 12 pieces of buckshot were removed from subcutaneous tissue in the region of the left elbow. Sutures were removed and wounds healed by June 22, 1945. On June 25, 1945, Pte Irwin was “re-boarded”, based on the assessment that nothing more can be done for left arm disability.
On July 10, 1945, upon discharge from the No 4 Canadian Hospital, Pte Irwin was struck-off-strength from No 4 Canadian Hospital, and taken-on-strength with the No 1 Canadian Reception Depot (CRD), he was also granted 10 days leave. July 21, 1945 he was struck-off-strength from No 1 CRD and taken-on-strength with No 1 CRD Repatriation Unit (RU). It appears that Pte Irwin was struck-off-strength from 1st CRDRU on July 28, 1945, and taken-on-strength with No 8 Repatriation Unit. On January 16, 1946 he was granted 9 days leave. January 27, 1946, Pte Irwin was struck-off-strength from No 8 Repatriation Unit and taken-on-strength with Military District 2 in Toronto, Ontario on January 28, 1946. Although not indicated in his records, Pte Irwin would have embarked the UK in early February 1946 and disembarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia about 10 days later. He was struck-off-strength from the Canadian Army Overseas on February 15, 1946, and was taken-on-strength with S-8 Canadian Army Training School (CATS), Hamilton, Ontario on February 16, 1946. Pte Irwin was granted disembarkation leave with Ration Allowance (RA) at 50 cents per diem from February 24, 1946 to March 25, 1946. He was struck-off-strength from S-8 CATS on March 30, 1946, and taken-on-strength with No 2 District Depot, Toronto, on March 31, 1946.
Pte Irwin was discharged from the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps on April 3, 1946. Ivan Irwin’s Military Service proves the old adage: “if at first you don’t succeed – try again”.
During his Military Service, Private Irwin served 2 years, 3 months and 24 days in Canada, 8 months, 8 days in the UK, and 11 months 22 days in France for a total of 3 years, 11 month and 24 days of Service*. As a side point: one note in his File indicates that he had “served in Italy”, which was incorrect. *Includes his first engagement.
Based on his Military Service, Pte Irwin was awarded:
The 1939 – 45 Star
France & Germany Star
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp
War Medal 1939 – 45
He was also awarded War Service Badge – Class “A”
Private Ivan Irwin passed away on April 15, 1965 at the Peterborough Civic Hospital in Peterborough, Ontario. Ivan is interred in Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield Ontario.
An excerpt from an article in McLean’s magazine by Barbara Amid, September 1996:
The military is the single calling in the world with job specifications that include a commitment to die for your nation. What could be more honorable?
Ivan Irwin was born on December 15, 1921 in Lindsay, Ontario to Robert Irwin & Ellen “Nellie” Gertrude Hutchinson. Ivan attended a rural school until he was 14 years old and worked on the family farm until he was 16 years old. He left home and for the next 5 years he traveled widely picking up odd jobs where and when he could. He had few hobbies, although he was mechanically inclined and enjoyed tinkering with machinery. As well, Ivan loved to hunt deer and rabbits. Occasionally he would read light magazines of interest.
Ivan married Mildred Corby and they had three children; Ellen “Helen”, Robert “Bob” and Ronald, all of whom lived in Lakefield, Ontario. Ivan was a member of the Orange Lodge in Lakefield. Ivan Irwin passed away on Thursday, April 15, 1965 at the Peterborough Civic Hospital in Peterborough, Ontario. Ivan is interred in Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield Ontario.
THE IVAN IRWIN FAMILY OF LAKEFIELD
Ivan Irwin’s parents were Robert Irwin born December 7, 1887 and Ellen “Nellie” Gertrude Hutchinson born August 23, 1900. Robert was a WWI Veteran and farmer. Robert & Nellie Irwin were married on August 8, 1925 in Lakefield and made their home at Rockcroft before moving to the farm. They had eight children: Ivan married Mildred Corby; Allen married Verna Swinson; Vera, married Thomas Kennedy; Benjamin married Betty Delledonne; Elsie, married James McIlmoyle; Violet, married William Edward Ayotte; Audrey, married Bernard Harvey and Leo married Margaret Stockdale. Robert Irwin passed away on October 12, 1964 and Nellie passed away on April 12, 1988; both are buried in Sandy Lake Cemetery in Lakehurst, Ontario.