Malcolm McBean Bell-Irving, 22, of Vancouver, made his way to Britain in August 1914 and joined the Royal Flying Corps in September, reportedly the corps’ first Canadian-born pilot, the first Canadian pilot to make a kill in the war, and the first Canadian pilot to be decorated.
He joined No. 1 Squadron at Netheravon, England, in December 1914 and flew his first reconnaissance mission in France in March 1915. Within a month, he was wounded for the first time, over Hill 60.
He survived at least one accident and many dogfights. In early days before machine guns were mounted on planes, pilots used handguns and shotguns against the enemy. Once when Bell-Irving’s revolver misfired, he threw the gun at a German pilot, hitting him in the head.
The London Gazette reported the 1916 awa...