William Frank Kenwood Collection

Item set


William Frank Kenwood Collection


In August 1940, on his 18th birthday, William Frank Kenwood joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and after many months of training, began flying Spitfires on sorties from England into enemy territory in Europe. He would usually return at night, guided back by a radio operator at the base. That voice in the darkness soon became the light of Kenwood’s life. He married the operator, Winifred Woods, in England on January 3, 1942. The newlyweds were separated after only six months when Kenwood was transferred to the North African Theatre of operations. Shortly after his transfer, Kenwood’s plane was shot down and he was captured and incarcerated by the Germans. Shipped to Prisoner of War camp Stalag VIIIB, near the Baltic coast, Kenwood would spend the next thirty-two months, taking up the saxophone in the prison band, studying mechanics in a prison class and trying his best to fill the passing time. The British army finally liberated Kenwood and the rest of the camp in 1945. After a brief reunion with his wife in England, the two returned to Kenwood’s home in Westmount, Quebec to finally begin their lives together.

Kenwood would rarely speak in detail about his experiences as a POW. His family would witness a few extremely rare episodes when the mental scars of that time would reveal themselves, but otherwise that chapter of his history was kept secret. However, not long after his death at the age of eighty-two, his children discovered a locked away cache of hundreds of well preserved items relating to this pivotal part of their father’s life. The collection of photos, clippings, drawings, notebooks, documents and letters were donated to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in 2005.




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