|Date of Birth||January 25, 1894|
|Place of Birth||Tuckersmith, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||John Ashton, 17 Kitchener Avenue, London, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Lithographer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No 12 Squadron|
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||January 21, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||21|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 13, 1969|
|Age at Death||75|
Milton Ernest Ashton was born on 25 January 1894 in Tuckersmith, Huron County, Ontario. His father William John Ashton was from the district of Holsworthy, Devonshire, England and had immigrated to Canada with his mother, stepfather, and some step-siblings before the 1881 Canada census where they were found living in Usborne, Huron. Milton’s mother Sarah Elizabeth Gunning was from Blanchard, Perth, all communities within a 50 kilometre radius. William and Sarah married in 1888 in Blanchard. Children born to the family in Stanley, Huron, were Alfred James (1889), Emerston (1891-1891), and Russell (1892). At the time of Milton’s birth in Tuckersmith, his father’s occupation was given as liveryman. The next child, Lloyd Francis was born in 1895 in Blanchard and by 1897 the family had moved to nearby London, Ontario. Children born in London were Garnet George (1897), Mabel Gertrude (1899), Florence Lily (1902-1903), Raymond Earl (1904), Gladys Pearl (1906), and Wilhelmine Ester (1910). Father William eventually became a street car conductor in London.
Milton first apprenticed as a lithographer as found on the 1911 Canada census and then later found full time work as a lithographer with Stone Limited where he was working when he signed his attestation papers in January of 1915 in London. His original regimental number was 7214 which was changed to 112004 that January. He gave his place of birth as Bloomfield on his attestation papers although his Ontario birth record confirmed it as Tuckersmith. With the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles that had been redesignated as the 2nd Divisional Calvary Squadron, Milton arrived in England on 22 June 1915 aboard the Caledonian.
Arriving in France that September, the 2nd Divisional Calvary Squadron was redesignated at the Special Service Squadron, 1st Canadian Hussars on 31 January of 1916. In late March Milton was attached to the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade for rations as trench guide. By the end of May the unit was known as the Canadian Corps Calvary Regiment. In July of 1916 Milton attended the 2nd Army Signalling School for two weeks, rejoining the unit on the 24th and appointed as Signaller. In late November he was granted a ten day leave, rejoining the unit on the 8th of December.
In February of 1917 Milton was struck off strength on a transfer to the CTD, Shorncliffe for transfer to the Royal Flying Corps Officers Cadet Wing. In May he attended the No 2 School of Aeronautics and in June was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Throughout the summer and into the fall of 1917 he was attached to a number of training squadrons, 12, 53, and 65. In late October he attended the Wireless and Observation School and in November served with the No 2 Aeroplane Supply Depot in France delivering aircraft to various squadrons. On 1 April 1918 Milton was promoted to Lieutenant and then to Temporary Captain on August 23rd when he was transferred to No 12 Squadron. In October Milton was granted a leave to Canada until the 1 August 1919 when he was transferred to the unemployed list. Over the course of his service the aircrafts that he flew were MFSH, Avro, Sopwith Two-seater, BE2B, RE8, Bristol Fighter, and SE5.
Milton returned to London after the war, found residing with his parents and working as an automobile salesman in the 1921 Canada census. On 28 October 1922, in London, Milton married Marjorie Anita Croden. The daughter of Alfred and Mabel (née Scane) Croden, Marjorie was born in 1898 in London. At the time of the marriage Milton was working as a traveller. The couple gave birth to their first child, daughter Joy Maybelle, in 1924. By 1928 Milton had returned to flying, working for the Ontario Airways Limited out of London.
The family next moved to Calgary where son James Edward was born in January of 1931 and from there to Kenora, Ontario where Milton became a member of the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion in 1934. In 1936 the family relocated to Winnipeg. The family also had another son, Robert Milton, date and place of birth unknown.
Milton was considered a pioneer of Canadian aviation, entering commercial flying in 1928. He worked for several air transportation companies, piloting some of the first Canadian prairie air mail flights with Canadian Airways Limited. He was one of the founders of Wings Limited and was managing director from 1934 to 1942. Wings pioneered flights to many Arctic communities, ferrying mining equipment and supplies. From 1940 to 1942 he was managing director of No 5 Air Observer School in Winnipeg and from 1942 until 1945 was managing director of Midwest Aircraft Limited of Winnipeg.
In 1947 Milton was instrumental in the formation of Central Northern Airways Limited, the predecessor company of Transair, along with George Sellers and Roy Brown. The company operated in northern Manitoba as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Milton served as vice president and managing director from inception until 1955. Early in 1956 he was appointed chairman of the board of Transair and was a board member until his retirement. He also served as a director with Air Industries and Transport Association from its founding in 1934 until 1954. Milton was a member of the St James and Winnipeg Airport Commission, and an honorary fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute.
Milton was a life member of the Preceptory Ledger No 70, Fort Frances, Ontario, and a Shrine Khartum Temple, Winnipeg. He was a member of the Charleswood Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Charleswood Curling Club.
Predeceased by his mother Sarah in 1940 and his father William in 1945, Milton died on 13 September 1969 at Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Marjorie, daughter Joy Paterson and son Jim, all in Winnipeg, and son Bob of Vancouver. He was also survived by nine grandchildren, brother Garnet of London, Ontario, and sisters Gladys Stewart of St Thomas, Ontario and Mabel Lewis of Fort Erie, Ontario. A memorial cremation service for Milton was held at the Pineview Memorial Chapel in Winnipeg. Milton’s wife Marjorie died on 29 December 1971 in the Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg with a memorial service also held for at at Pineview.
Milton’s brother Garnet enlisted in London, Ontario in 1915 and served overseas with the Canadian Field Artillery as a Gunner. He returned to Canada in April of 1919 and died a month after Milton.
by Judy Stockham
Milton’s Air Force record from the National Archives, London, England