March 12, 1873 - Winnipeg’s first electric light is turned on in front of Davis House hotel on Main Street, near present day Portage and Main. For more see: page 2 and here.
March 12, 1979 – The Brandon Wheat Kings break the WHL record for most shots on goal in a single game: 85. They beat the Regina Pats 14 to 4. (Source)
|March 17, 1930, Winnipeg Free Press|
The World War I pilot is Canada's most decorated member of the military. During his service he earned the Distinguished Service Medal, the Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal with bar. He also received the Croix de Guerre (France), Silver Medal of Military Valour (Italy).
His final military honour was the Victoria Cross which is given “For most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.” Only 96 of them have been awarded to Canadians dating back to its inception in 1854.
Barker’s VC was presented by King George at Buckingham Palace while he was recuperating in a London Hospital. His citation reads:
“On the morning of the 27th October, 1918, this officer observed an enemy two-seater over the Fôret de Mormal. He attacked this machine, and after a short burst it broke up in the air. At the same time a Fokker biplane attacked him, and he was wounded in the right thigh, but managed, despite this, to shoot down the enemy aeroplane in flames.
He then found himself in the middle of a large formation of Fokkers, who attacked him from all directions; and was again severely wounded in the left thigh; but succeeded in driving down two of the enemy in a spin.
He lost consciousness after this, and his machine fell out of control. On recovery he found himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation, and singling out one machine, he deliberately charged and drove it down in flames.
During this fight his left elbow was shattered, and he again fainted, and on regaining consciousness he found himself still being attacked, but, notwithstanding that he was now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered, he dived on the nearest machine and shot it down in flames.
Being greatly exhausted, he dived out of the fight to regain our lines, but was met by another formation, which attacked and endeavoured to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeded in breaking up this formation and reached our lines, where he crashed on landing.
This combat, in which Major Barker destroyed four enemy machines (three of them in flames), brought his total successes up to fifty enemy machines destroyed, and is a notable example of the exceptional bravery and disregard which this very gallant officer has always displayed throughout his distinguished career."
Barker's transition to civilian life did not go well. Like many returning soldiers, he fought depression, immobilization and constant mental and physical pain. His business venture, a charter airline with colleague Billy Bishop, went bust.
Settling with his wife in Southern Ontario, Barker did test flying for hire. On a routine flight his plane nose dived into the ground at full speed. There was speculation that it may have been suicide.
Dauphin's airfield was renamed Lt. Col W.G. (Billy) Barker V.C. Airport in 1999.
Also see Toronto remembers Billy Barker and Barker's For Valour page.