Who's Who - William Erwin

William Erwin William P. Erwin (1895-1927) scored eight victories as a U.S. air ace during World War One.

Born in Amarillo, Texas on 18 October 1895, Erwin was raised in Chicago.

With America's advent into the war in April 1917 Erwin was prompt in volunteering his services with the air service.  Duly accepted he was sent, following training, to France where he was assigned flight duties with Lieutenant D. H. Dahringer with the 1st U.S. Aero Squadron.

His first victory - or 'kill' - was achieved in September 1918, and a second - downing a Rumpler two-seater aircraft - followed some two weeks later.  A dawn patrol the following month brought Erwin his third aerial victory.

Scoring two further victories in a single afternoon in early October, Erwin duly qualified as an ace by achieving five kills.  His sixth followed on 15 October and a seventh success on 18 October, a Fokker D.VII.

Erwin's eighth and final victory was achieved on 22 October.

The recipient of both the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and French Croix de Guerre - the former for his actions during fighting at Chateau Thierry and St. Mihiel, where he undertook dangerous missions strafing enemy soldiers from low altitudes - Erwin survived the war, retaining an interest in aviation.

While participating in the Dole Air Race (from California to Hawaii) of 1927 Erwin was presumed lost at sea while searching for other participants.  His date of death was put at 20 October 1917, two days after his 32nd birthday.

'minnie' was a term used to describe the German trench mortar minnenwerfer (another such term was Moaning Minnie).

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