William James Arthur Duncan made his pro ice hockey debut in 1915 and played with the 228th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force hockey team in the National Hockey Association in 1916-1917 before being posted overseas. In England, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and was posted to 60 Squadron in September 1917. With a roving commission, he scored eleven victories flying the S.E.5a before returning to the Home Establishment on 30 June 1918. Post war, Duncan resumed his hockey career with the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (winning league titles in 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1924) before the pro leagues collapsed in the west. He entered the NHL in 1926-27 with the Detroit Falcons (forerunner of the Red Wings) and served as both the team's first captain and first coach. Duncan played with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927-28 to 1930-31, while also coaching the team in 1930-31 and for the first five games of 1931-32. He was replaced as coach in Toronto by the legendary Dick Irvin (another World War I veteran) who led the Maple Leafs to their first Stanley Cup championship later in 1931-32.
Military Cross (MC)
Lt. William James Arthur Duncan, Rly. Troops, seconded R.A.F.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On one occasion he attacked and shot down an enemy plane which had been engaged at firing on our infantry. He then led his patrol over the enemy's lines, dived down to an altitude of 100 feet, and attacked large numbers of hostile infantry with machine-gun fire, causing the utmost panic amongst them and inflicting heavy casualties. His continuous gallantry and initiative have been most conspicuous.
Lt. William James Arthur Duncan, M.C., C.R.T.D. Sec., R.A.F.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer sighted fifteen enemy scouts attacking eight of ours and immediately joined in, destroying one enemy aeroplane, which fell with a wing off. He then attacked and drove down three other machines, maintaining the fight until the eight had got back to their lines. He has also, with another officer, destroyed an Albatross scout, which he followed down to a height of 200 feet, in spite of heavy machine-gun fire from the ground.
(M.C. gazetted 26th July, 1918.)