The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

A800005 Lance Corporal William Robert Christopher Windle (MiD)

The Royal Canadian Regiment

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

William Robert Windle began his wartime service during the Second World War in Canada with the Dufferin & Haldimand Rifles, serving with them from Nov 1941 until Oct 1942. In October, 1942, he transferred to the Royal Canadian Artillery. Windle enlisted for service with the Canadian Army Active Force in the Second World War on 11 Dec 1942 and was assigned the service number B-137215 from a block of numbers assigned for General Enlistments administered by No. 2 District Depot in Toronto.

Windle was sent to No. 20 Basic Training Centre, Brantford, on 8 Jan 1943, and thereafter to the A10 Canadian Infantry Training centre at Camp Borden on 9 Mar 1943. On completion of his infantry training, Windle was posted on 30 Apr 1943 to the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, CASF. This unit was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, serving in a home defence role under Atlantic Command until it was disbanded on 15 August 1943. While with the Black Watch, Windle was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal on 15 Jul 1943. He remained with the unit until the battalion was disbanded, at which time he was posted to the Victoria Rifles of Canada.

Joining the VRC at Debert, he accompanied it to Ontario to serve on home defence duties in the Welland Canal area at Niagara-on-the-Lake and at Allanburg, Ontario. In early December, 1943, his rank reverted to private, the cause for which is hidden in redacted remarks in his service record. Windle left the VRC on 20 Dec 1943, when he was posted to No. 25 Basic Training Centre, Simcoe, and was immediately transferred to A29 C.I.T.C. Camp Ipperwash where he qualified a Driver M/C, Class III.

It was not until April, 1944, that Windle would finally be set on the path towards active service in Europe. On 29 April, 1944, he sailed for England and was struck off the strength of the Canadian Army (CAN). Officially taken on strength of the Canadian Army (O/S) while at sea, Windle actually arrived in England on 7 May 1944 and reported for duty at No. 2 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (C.I.R.U.).

While waiting to join a draft of reinforcement, Windle was promoted to Acting Corporal (with pay) on 15 May 1944, and relinquished the same on 22 Jun 1944. His move forward recommenced on 2 Jul 1944 when he embarked in the UK. The next day, 3 Jul 1944, Windle entered the theatre of war in France destined to join his new unit, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada (which, ironically, didn't land in France until 7 Jul 1944).

Windle didn't apparently join the Q.O.C.H. of C., and six days after landing in France, on 9 Jul 1944, he was transferred from the holding list to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, this unit had landed in Normandy as part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

On 13 Jan 1945, William Windle is shown as transferred to the X-8 list. This was reserved for "All non-effective held at Base Reinforcement Units whose return to the UK has been authorized" which perhaps indicates that he was wounded. Details are redacted but another form in his record notes that effective 4 Jan 1945 he was SOS to the X3 List (N.N.S.H.), this list was for "All ranks evacuated on medical grounds behind Regimental Aid Posts". Windle returned to the UK on 24 Jan 1945. While in England, another redacted passage in Windle's file is annotated with the acronym "F.G.C.M." – Field General Court Martial.

Remaining in the UK, Windle was posted to both the 3rd and 5th Canadian Infantry Training Regiments until he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Repatriation Depot on 20 Jul 1945. Windle returned to Canada attached to the 48th Highlanders of Canada, and landed in Canada on 18 Aug 1945. On completion of his Second World War service, Windle was discharged at No. 2 District Depot, Toronto, on 22 Oct 1945.

Like many veterans of the Second World War, William Windle stopped forward when the call again went out for volunteers in 1950. As the Canadian Army formed new units for its first rotation in Korea, Windle re-enlisted on 9 Aug 1950. His new service number was A-800005.

By 11 Aug 1950, Windle was in Petawawa with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. On 16 Aug he was appointed lance Corporal but this was to be short-lived. Following another redacted passage in his service record comes the note "Reverts to the permanent grade of private" on 25 Oct 1950. Windle was also transferred to the Canadian Reinforcement Group about this time, but returned to the battalion on 10 Nov 1950.

Windle accompanied the unit to Fort Lewis, USA, for training from Nov 1950 to late March 1951. Between 29 Dec 1950 and 3 Jan 1951 he is shown to be on an X-2 List, which was for "All ranks under sentence of detention, imprisonment or penal servitude." Windle bounces around for a while after this, being transferred to 3RCR on 28 Mar 1951, to 1RCR on 5 April 1951, to No. 5 Personnel Depot (Kingston) on 18 Jul 1951, and returning to 3RCR in October.

Decisions finally having been made regarding Windle's disposition, on 7 Jan 1952 he was transferred to No. 2 Canadian Administration Unit. William Windle was once again off to a theatre of war. He embarked in Canada on 8 Jan 1952 and disembarked in the Far East (Japan) on 22 Jan 1952. A month later he sailed to the Korean peninsula, disembarking on 26 Feb 1952. He was directly assigned to 2RCR and recorded as qualified "Leading Infantryman" and to draw the appropriate pay.

Amid the redacted lines, Windle's service record does not provide many details of his war in Korea. From the regimental history (Stevens, 1966) we find the following passage describing action in March, 1952:

"THE LAST FRONT LINE TOUR"

"On March 10th Second Battalion entered the line for its last tour of duty. It was a peaceful scene, the early patrols yielding nothing, but Pte. W.R. Windle, a sniper of C Company, was still at war. In three days he claimed six kills and his companion snipers another six. The enemy was roused and on the night of March 20th a C Company patrol was ambushed. It proved to be Cpl. K.V. McOrmond's evening. He killed the first Chinese to intercept his section, took charge of the patrol when its sergeant was wounded, gave covering fire to the withdrawal and when he found himself three men short embarked on a search for them, with enemies so ringed about that the missing men, who had gone to ground, heard his shouts but dare not reply. He led the patrol back to C Company lines and arranged for directional flares to guide in the lost trio, who returned unharmed next morning. Ten dead Chinese afterwards were found on the scene of the ambush."

William Windle's last days in combat would also lead to his name appearing on another list, of those Wounded in Action. Suffering a gun shot wound of the left hand an a fractured right ankle on 25 March 1952, Windle was admitted to the 8055 M.A.S.H. on 26 Mar 1952. Listed as wounded in action in the Globe and Mail on 30 Mar 1952, the paper also identified that his wife was then living at 52 Ann St, Delhi, Ontario.

Between 19 Jun and 1 Jul 1952, Windle again appears on an X-2 List (detention, imprisonment or penal servitude). An unredacted comment in his file states clearly that on Canada Day he was "released from Detention."

On 14 Jul 1952, William Windle embarked in the Far East for his long trek home. Apparently returning by air, in contrast to his outbound sea voyage, he landed in Canada on 15 Jul 1952. Windle was discharged at No. 7 Personnel Depot (Canadian Army) at Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario, on 4 Oct 1952.

For actions in Korea, William Robert Windle was awarded a mention in Despatches (MiD). His MiD was published in the Canada Gazette, No. 45 of 8 Nov 1952 and Canadian Army Routine Order 128-10 (1952). The award citation card reads:

"The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the award of mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service."

After serving overseas in two wars, William Windle still couldn't shake the desire to serve his country in uniform. He returned to the ranks on 11 Dec 1961, enlisting with 56 Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Brantford). Windle was retrained as a Gunner and promoted to Acting Bombardier on 19 Feb 1962. He transferred to No. 7 Personnel Depot, London, in Feb 1962 on a full-time contract, returning to 56 Fd Regt on 6 Jun 1962. He served until 30 Nov 1964.

Lance Corporal William R. Windle died on 20 Jun 2005 at Brantford, Ontario. He was 74 years of age.

Pro Patria


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