1. Grave:Kingston (Cataraqui) Cemetery13866. Masonic Lot. Sec. B. Ontario

Awards & Titles:


Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: Royal Air Force 

Action : Accident 

Accidents were a minor factor in the casualty list. Our definition is deaths resulting from activities that were not directly associated with 'active service'. We have excluded Naval Accidents which are seperately identified because of their numbers and impact. Many accidents involved the aviators, operating at the the limits of technology.

Detail :

72910 Air Mechanic 2nd Class Percy Joseph Barnett. Died at Ongwanada Military Hospital, Kingston Canada on 12th October 1918, from pneumonia following an air accident. He is buried in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His grave at Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston, Canada is tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

"Barnett had been working as a motor truck foreman in Brooklyn, New York and on June 5th, he had completed a US Draft Registration card which recorded that he had brown eyes, black hair and was of medium height and build. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in New York on July 5th, 1917 and was appointed to the Corps in Toronto on July 7th, with the regimental number 72910." Researched for 'We were there Too' by Dr Ronnie Fraser. See also: See also: British Jews in the First World War.

The following is a full transcript of research conducted by W. Bro. Douglas M. Slack, P.M. Catarqui Lodge, No. 92, December, 2018.


Cataraqui Cemetery Masonic Burial Plot Royal Edward of Cataraqui Lodge, No. 92 Comment has been made about restoration of the main monument in the Cemetery Plot owned by Royal Edward of Cataraqui Lodge, No. 92. In the course of discussion of restoration of the main monument, and the costs incurred, mention has also been made of another monument in the cemetery plot which is a veteran’s monument. The monument names the deceased as Percy J. Barnett, Royal Air Force 72910 Air Mechanic 2nd Class, 12th October, 1918.

I am indebted to Peter Gower, of Kingston, who is the author of: “Kingston Volunteers, The Thing To Do: Biographies Of Those From Kingston And Frontenac County Who Died In The Great War”. I first consulted Peter Gower to determine why I could not find reference to Percy J. Barnett in his book. He quickly researched the fact that Percy J. Barnett was the son of Henry and Sarah Barnett, of 665 Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham, London, England, and the husband of Amelia Barnett, of 35 Malmesbury Road, Canning Town, London, England. He provided me with a copy of an obituary notice from the Kingston Whig-Standard newspaper dated October 12, 1918 which read as follows:

Late Flying Cadet Barnett A sad death occurred at Queen's University Hospital on Friday night when flying Cadet Barnett, whose home is in London, Eng., passed away after a brief illness from pneumonia. Cadet Barnett was in the Flying Corps at Deseronto. Last fall he met with an accident, when he fell eight hundred feet. He was improving nicely from his injuries, but on Thursday contracted pneumonia and sank rapidly. As far as can be learned, he has no relatives in this country.

Further research on my part has disclosed the following:

1. Tyendinaga Airport is located on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Originally known as Deseronto Airport, the field opened in 1917 as a training school for pilots during World War I. During World War II, it hosted the No. 1 Instrument Navigation School for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, providing advanced instrument-navigation training to air crews. The aerodrome is currently the site of the First Nations Technical Institute and the First Nations Flying School.

2. The Royal Air Force came into existence on 1 April 1918. Only 9 years before, on 16 October 1908, an American named Samuel Franklin Cody made the first officially recognized aeroplane flight in Britain - a distance of 1,390 feet in a bamboo and canvas biplane known as British Army Aeroplane No. 1.

3. The Deseronto area was home to two Royal Flying Corps pilot training camps from 1917 to 1918: Camp Rathbun to the north of the Town of Deseronto and Camp Mohawk on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. The camps trained 3,000 British, Canadian and American pilots and employed local men and women as mechanics and medical staff. Crashes were a frequent spectacle and watching the flying was a popular activity for people in the summer months.

4. A memorial in Deseronto Cemetery is dedicated “To the Memory of the Officers, Non-Com Officers, Cadets and Airmen of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force who died while on duty in Canada 1917-1919.” Six British men who died at the camps are buried around the memorial with individual monuments. Their memorials, with one exception, are the same style as the memorial for Percy J. Barnett. One of the monuments records “Lieut. C. J. Humphreys, drowned by flying accident Camp Mohawk, July 15, 1918, age 21 years”.

5. Airplane cockpits used in World War I were not large enough to accommodate a pilot and a parachute, since a seat that would fit a pilot wearing a parachute would be too large. Weight was – at the very beginning – also a consideration, since planes had limited load capacity. Carrying a parachute impeded performance and reduced the useful offensive and fuel load. Finally, there was an assumption that the equipment should be saved at all costs so pilots should remain with their aeroplane to the last moment to try to save the aeroplane.

6. An examination by me of the records of Cataraqui Lodge No. 92 disclosed the following information, apparently related to Percy J.Barnett.
(a) The Lodge Register for April 26, 1918, shows a visitor signature for “P.J. Burnett of St. Luke’s Lodge No. 144, London, England; (b) The Minutes for the Lodge meeting of December 13, 1918, under “General Business”, record a Motion; “Moved by R.W. Bro. Shaw and seconded by V.W. Bro. Crozier that Cataraqui Lodge pay the balance of funeral expenses of the Late Bro. Burnett, amounting to $37.50 – Carried”. Since the records are handwritten it is likely a writing legibility issue and the name should have been recorded as Barnett in both cases. (c) At that time the Board of Relief of Cataraqui Lodge consisted of: The Worshipful Master, Right Worshipful Bro. Shaw, Very Worshipful W.C. Crozier, and Worshipful Bro. Warwick.

7. The scale and associated high number of casualties of World War I produced an entirely new attitude towards the commemoration of war dead. Previous to World War I, individual commemoration of war dead was often on an ad hoc basis and was almost exclusively limited to commissioned officers. However, the war required mobilization of a significant percentage of the population, either as volunteers or through conscription. An expectation had consequently arisen that individual soldiers would expect to be commemorated, even if they were low ranking members of the military. A committee under Frederic Kenyon, Director of the British Museum, presented a report in November 1918 to the Imperial War Graves Commission, detailing how it envisioned the development of the cemeteries. Two key elements of this report were that bodies should not be repatriated and that uniform memorials should be used to avoid class distinctions. Beyond the logistical nightmare of returning home so many corpses, it was felt that repatriation would conflict with the feeling of brotherhood that had developed between serving ranks. This Commission evolved from the Imperial War Graves Commission into the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

8. The monument in the Lodge burial plot, for Percy J. Barnett, was replaced, due to deterioration, by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission sometime in the last decade.

9. Mention is made in the obituary of Queen’s University Hospital. I have discussed this with Peter Gower and he advises that Kingston was a regional military headquarters for repatriation of wounded and disabled servicemen, and, due to the numbers requiring hospitalization, the army rented space in Queen’s University for hospital beds and medical facilities. The hospital was located at Queen’s University, operated by the Army, and would have had access to specialists from Queen’s University medical school. It is a reasonable assumption that Percy Barnett bailed out of an aircraft over water and managed to survive his fall, to be rescued and hospitalized in the military hospital located at Queen’s University.

10. I have communicated with St. Luke’s Lodge No. 144 in London England to attempt to find out more information about Percy J. Barnett and I have received a cordial reply and a promise to research and advise me of results. St. Luke’s Lodge was established in 1765 and meets in Freemasons Hall, Holborn, London, England."

His file is stored at the National Archives: AIR 79/675/72910.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : St Luke's No. 144 E.C.London

28th October 1907
25th November 1907
27th January 1908

The contribution record of St. Lukes Lodge show "Joseph" Barnett initiated into its Lodge in 1908. He is a minor at the time, aged 20 years employed as a Clerk and resident at 51 Coburn Road, Bow. His early contributions are irregular and it is no surprise he is listed as excluded in 1912 after 2 years of arrears 1910-1911. For this reason, he would not have been included in the 1921 book, the Masonic Roll of Honour.

The Secretary of St. Luke's, Paul Wiley, in response to research by Douglas Slack examined the lodge records for any reference to Brother Barnett. An entry exists in the minutes for a Brother Joseph Barnett from a meeting on 28th October 1907 in which a special dispensation was read in open lodge from the Grand Master H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught authorising the initiation of a Mr Joseph Barnett a ‘minor’ of twenty years of age. He was initiated into the Craft at that same meeting, passed on 25th November 1907 and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on 27th January 1908. He was proposed by his father Bro Henry Barnett who was initiated into St Luke’s on 24th October 1902.

The date of Joseph’s initiation at 20 years of age does seem to tie in with the recorded date of the death at 31 of Percy J. Barnett in 1918 so I would hazard it is the same person especially as his father's name was Henry and we have no record of a P. Barnett in the lodge records. [See above research to identify the link]

It would seem that both father and son did not take office as there is little further mention of them as active members other than they may have both fallen on hard times as Bro Joseph approached the Lodge for assistance and was granted 2 guineas from the charity box on 29th March 1911 and his father, Henry, was granted assistance on 25th September 1912 to the tune of £5.5/- Their financial hardship may also tie in with the fact that your own lodge felt obliged to pay the balance of Joseph’s/ Percy’s funeral expenses.

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Last Updated: 2019-09-13 07:27:57