Irwin, Robert George Wylie

Irwin, Robert George Wylie (Roy)

First Radio Officer

SS Carlton (Newcastle-on-Tyne), Merchant Navy

Died as a result of enemy action on Friday 20 December 1940 (aged 23)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 23)

Bangor and District War Memorial (as Irwin R.G.)

Ballyholme Presbyterian Church, Bangor

Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)

BIOGRAPHY

Robert George Wylie (Roy) Irwin was born on 19 November 1917 and he was a son of John and Margaret Helena Irwin (nee Holmes) of Cavehill Drive, Belfast then Victoria Gardens, Belfast and later 8 Brooklyn Avenue, Bangor.  John Irwin worked as a commercial traveller in the meal and flour trade and he and Margaret Helena Irwin were married on 18 November 1903 in Clonfeacle (St. Patrick’s) Church of Ireland Church, Benburb, Co. Tyrone.  They had at least seven children:

William John Roland (born 7 July 1905 in Maydown, Co Armagh)

Margaret Helen (born 25 October 1908 at 7 Victoria Gardens, Belfast)

Lilian Hazel Campbell (born 7 January 1912 at 7 Victoria Gardens, Belfast)

Letitia Doreen (born 7 April 1913 at 29 Victoria Gardens, Belfast)

Robert George Wylie (born 19 November 1917 at 29 Victoria Gardens, Belfast)

Desmond Millar (born 9.30pm 29 July 1919 at 29 Victoria Gardens, Belfast)

Joseph (born 9.45pm 29 July 1919 at 29 Victoria Gardens, Belfast)

Roy Irwin was educated at Skegoniell Public Elementary School, Belfast and Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) from 1930 until 1935.  He was a member of the Boy’s Brigade and went to sea in 1937.

During the Second World War Roy Irwin served with the Merchant Navy aboard the SS Carlton and his brother Joseph served with the Royal Air Force.  Roy Irwin was home on leave in November 1940 and he died a month later, on 20 December 1940.  It was the Marconi Radio Company that informed Roy’s family of his death.

Built in 1924 by Short Brothers Ltd., Pallion, Sunderland, the SS Carlton was owned by the Carlton Steamship Company, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  On 20 December 1940 when on route from Newport to Buenos Aires in Convoy OB-260 she was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean (west of Ireland) by the Italian submarine Pietro Calvi.  The entire crew abandoned ship in two lifeboats but one capsized.  The second lifeboat was found 18 days later with only four survivors.

First Radio Officer Robert George Wylie (Roy) Irwin (aged 23) was one of more than 30 men who died.

First Radio Officer Robert George Wylie (Roy) Irwin is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London; on Bangor and District War Memorial (as Irwin R.G.) and in Ballyholme Presbyterian Church, Bangor.  On Sunday 27 July 1941 there were special services in Ballyholme Presbyterian Church when a memorial pulpit presented by his parents was dedicated.   He is also commemorated in RBAI.