John Morphett (Jack) IRWIN DSO, MiD

IRWIN, John Morphett

Service Numbers: Officer, S212001, SX20889, SX3703
Enlisted: 18 August 1914, Duntroon, Australian Capital Territory
Last Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Last Unit: 4th Garrison Battalion
Born: Glenelg, South Australia, 24 January 1894
Home Town: Glenelg, Holdfast Bay, South Australia
Schooling: Royal Military College Duntroon, Canbera, Australian Capital Territory
Occupation: Soldier and businessman
Died: Natural Causes, Mount Barker, South Australia, 1 August 1946, aged 52 years
Cemetery: West Terrace Cemetery (General) Adelaide, South Australia
Cremated - inscription Brighton St. Jude's Cemetery
Memorials: Glenelg and District WW1 & WW2 Honour Board, Hackney St Peter's College Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

18 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN Officer, Duntroon, Australian Capital Territory
18 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney
18 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
11 May 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain, 7th Field Artillery Brigade, HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney
11 May 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 7th Field Artillery Brigade
1 Aug 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 3rd Division Headquarters

World War 2 Service

6 Apr 1940: Involvement Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Lieutenant Colonel, SN SX20889, 4th Garrison Brigade, Homeland Defence - Militia and non deployed forces
6 Apr 1940: Enlisted Adelaide, SA
6 Apr 1940: Involvement AIF WW1, SN S212001, 4th Garrison Battalion, Homeland Defence - Militia and non deployed forces
6 Apr 1940: Involvement SN SX3703
18 Jul 1942: Involvement Lieutenant Colonel, SN SX20889
18 Jul 1942: Involvement Lieutenant Colonel, SN S212001
18 Jul 1942: Enlisted Kooyonga, SA
14 Apr 1945: Discharged

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John Morphett Irwin was born at Glenelg, South Australia on the 24 January 1894 to Mr and Mrs Charles and Olive Morphett Irwin (nee Mair.)

He entered the Royal Military College at Duntroon in ACT on 22 June 1911 in the first intake of cadets. Whilst studying there he was a member of the Honour Guard at the naming ceremony in Canberra on 12 March 1913.

At the outbreak of the war, his class was rushed to graduate ahead of schedule on 14 August 1914. He officially enlisted with the AIF four days later and was appointed as a Lieutenant with the 8th Battery of the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. After entraining to Sydney he embarked there on 18 October 1914 aboard HMAT Argyllshire (A8.)  

He landed on Gallipoli on 26 April 1915 as an artillery officer and fought there with his unit until he was evacuated sick in August 1915. He returned to Australia in February 1916 and after fully recovered took up a position as an instructor at Royal Military College in Duntroon. He was only with the college for a short time however, as on 11 May of that year he embarked again for England as a Captain with the 28th Battery of the 7th Field Artillery Brigade at Sydney aboard HMAT Argyllshire (A8) once again.

In July 1916 John Irwin was appointed as Staff Captain with the 3rd Division Artillery and was promoted to Major in August 1917 before taking over command of the 25th Battery of the 7th Field Artillery Brigade in February 1918. He was severely wounded in June 1918 receiving a gunshot wound to the buttock. By the end of World War One he had been awarded the DSO and had been Mentioned in Despatches three times. Before returning to Australia, however, the Commonwealth Department of Defence decided that he was to attend an ordnance college in England for 3 years.  

During World War Two he commanded initially the 4th Garrison Battalion before Ben appointed to the command of the 4th Garrison Brigade in South Australia as a Lieutenant-Colonel. He was discharged from service on 14 April 1945. Soon his health began to fail him, however, and he died at Mount Barker on 1 August 1946.

He was survived by his Second Wife Marjorie Wheatley Irwin (nee Reeves) after his first wife Audrey Irwin (nee Aarons) died, and two children, one from both marriages. His remains were cremated at West Terrace Cemetery, but were privately kept.     


Nathan Rohrlach, December 2014.



Biography contributed by William Holden

When transferred to the Reserve of Officers in 1922, John Morphett IRWIN joined Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd. as Sales Manager and from August 1923 he was temporarily appointed to its Board. In 1924 he was appointed Works Manager at the company's newly constructed Woodville plant in South Australia. 

In April 1926, he left Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd. to become a breeder of stud cattle and in 1933 purchased and established a property in Mount Barker.

In mid-1945, he became the State aide-de-camp to the Governor-General of Australia, HRH the Duke of Gloucester until early 1946 when his health began to fail him.