War Records



    E. Patricia Fowler

    Veteran of WW II, Leading Airwoman E. Patricia Fowler enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division from March 1943 to January 1946.

    Within a week of enlisting, she had left her hometown of Fredericton, N.B. and together with additional women who had chosen to serve their country, she was on her way to Upper Rockcliffe, Ont. for training.

    Basic training was a demanding regime and many were lonely and homesick. However, on graduation day, they marched together, in step, and as Pat recalled, “we were on cloud nine”. The women formed bonds and friendships that would last a lifetime.

    There were a variety of occupations that could be pursued within the R.C.A.F Women’s Division. Pat chose photography and after an 11 week course at Lower Rockcliffe, she graduated as an ‘Aerial and Crash Photographer’. At that time, Pat earned .90 cents per 8 hour day, rising at 6 AM, breakfast at 7 AM and on parade by 8 AM.

    Subsequently, Pat successfully applied for a position at the No.1 Service Flying Training School located at Camp Borden (near Barrie, Ont.) which was operated under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This location housed both army and flight training and was regarded as the most important training facility in Canada at the time. Approximately 2,000 personnel were there and Pat resided in a barracks with 80 women. Pat later recalled that the services taught them to treasure friendships, enjoy solitude, how to share and get along with one another.

    The aerial camera weighed 40 pounds. It was installed in the Avro Anson aircraft, sometimes in the nose creating tight access conditions for the photographer and for angle shots, it would be held outside the side windows. Many crashes took place as the young men were being trained and prepared for frontline action. “Speed graphic” cameras, which produced 4 x 6 negatives, were used for crash scenes. Besides photographing the crashes, the countryside, rivers, bush, etc. would also be photographed and later printed to create a mosaic for young pilots so as to identify and familiarize them with terrain, danger areas, etc. Small cameras were also installed in the wings of Harvard aircraft for training purposes.

    In the final year of her stay at Camp Borden, Pat would meet young, dashing airman Ken Fowler who had just returned from serving in the overseas campaign. Following their war service, they married and took up residence in Ken’s hometown of Stratford, Ont.

    Pat’s attendance at Remembrance Day services was assured each and every year and always in the willing company of family members.

    A final note from Pat: “The women of Canada worked behind the lights so that our men could be well trained for their roll, which they did with honour and freedom came to our country. Let us not take our freedom for granted but continue to work and maintain our country, which is so full of bounty and beauty”