Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 29, 1900
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinRobert Hill, uncle, Pendleton, Ontario
Trade / CallingWiper
Service Details
Regimental NumberRAF- 270336
BattalionRoyal Air Force (Canada)
ForceAir Force
BranchRoyal Air Force
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJuly 31, 1918
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 28, 1988
Age at Death88

Windsor, Walter Pat

Walter Cecil Windsor was born on 29 December 1900 in Rat Portage (now Kenora) Ontario. His mother was 16 year old Mary Jane Windsor of Pendleton, Ontario. She gave him the nickname ‘Paddy’ because of the sound his feet made as he ‘padded’ down the hall to see her as she lay ill in bed. The nickname stuck and Walter was known as Pat from then on.

Following is an article written by Clarence Dusang of the Kenora Miner & News after an interview with Walter:

He once spun props for Billy Bishop

Memories of flying in World War One vintage fighter aircraft with some of the most famous aces of the Royal Flying Corps at the controls are still bright in the mind of 74-year old Patrick Windsor, Third St. S., Kenora, who enlisted in the services when 17 years old.

At the time of his enlistment, Mr. Windsor was employed as a wiper in the CP Rail shops at Ignace. He had full intentions of getting in the Navy but found the waiting period would be too long and went to Winnipeg and chose the air service, instead.

Along with a group of new recruits he was whisked to Toronto where they were outfitted with uniforms and then it was off to Camp Beamsville, 15 miles from St. Catharines where air force personnel received extensive training before proceeding overseas to take up the quarrel with the enemy. Mr. Windsor said he remained at that same camp until the cessation of hostilities. His discharge papers are dated Jan. 10, 1919.

At the School of Aerial Gunnery, Beamsville, the young recruit was asked, ‘how would you like to swing propellers?’ He snapped up this opportunity and was taught the fundamentals of turning props on the Curtis planes, as the pilot sat at the controls to make contact.

It was while engaged in this type of work that Mr. Windsor met such renowned fighter pilots as Billy Bishop, who was credited with knocking 52 enemy aircraft out of the air during the war, and fellow fighter ace Roy Brown.

Both these Canadian aces had completed one stint in the skies over war-torn Europe and were sent home for a change of atmosphere. While back in Canada they were stationed at Beamsville where they put their talents to good use in giving instruction to the hundreds of young men who had volunteered to fly in combat.

Windsor recalls that one day Billy Bishop was preparing for a flight and during conversation with the ‘prop spinner’ said, ‘how would you like to go for a spin, son?’ The affirmative answer was quick in coming and it was no time until the flimsy craft was airborne and heading for Niagara Falls.

That was one flight that was vividly recalled in the mind of Mr. Windsor. He said he was thrilled to think that he was actually flying with the famous Bishop but this thrill was short-lived as the fighter-ace started to put his plane through some hair-raising antics. The expert handling by Bishop not only made his passenger sit on the edge of the seat but proved to be eye-catching to people on the ground, who witnessed a display of stunt-flying including dodging, nose diving and loops.

The training for the young pilots included focusing in on planes piloted by the instructors. Instead of machine guns, the planes were equipped with cameras and the processed results would indicate the degree of accuracy attained. The young pilots found that zeroing in on planes flown by such people as Bishop and Brown was no easy chore and the misses far outnumbered the ‘hits’.

After a brief stint of duty at the gunnery base, the overseas pilots went back to the wars again. Beamsville, he said, was made up of several camps, where different phases of pilot and gunnery training were carried out.

The young lad who started off his working career as a wiper with the railway and later as a ‘prop spinner’ with the flying corps, completed his working life as a CP Rail engineer, retiring in 1965 after 27 Ѕ years with the company. At the time of his retirement he was switching in the Kenora yards.

He held a variety of jobs throughout his lifetime, working on highway construction, bridge building and miscellaneous chores, particularly during the ‘hard-times’ in the early ’30’s.

He recalls about being employed to scout a possible route for the highway to the Manitoba border, from Keewatin. Along with two companions, George Lund and Bill Armour he was engaged in running a line through the dense bush. They lived in a tent while on the survey.

Mr. Windsor said that another facet of the highway construction which he was engaged in was going out in the winter to put up ice for the camps which would be used to accommodate the hundreds of men working on the highway development.

When the bridge at Keewatin was built, Pat Windsor was running a hoist which transported the concrete for the massive task. He also had a stint as night foreman when the huge rock cut, just west of the bridge was blasted out.

He recalls being engaged in construction of the bridge over Darlington Bay at Keewatin where piles were driven in 100 feet of water. Horses were used to pull the heavy driver to its peak of ascent for the driving process.

Having been born in Kenora, Mr. Windsor says he has witnessed many changes during his lifetime, but says ‘it’s a pretty good place to live and I plan on staying here.’

By Clarence Dusang (Miner & News Staff)

Walter married Mary Ellen Hornshaw in 1934 and they had three children – Margaret, David and Patricia. This marriage dissolved by 1945 but Walter remained involved in the lives of his children and Mary Ellen’s subsequent children – June, Linda and Douglas.

Walter died on 28 December 1988 in Kenora, Ontario.


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