Monday 5th July 1937
Commander Walter George Windham (73), credited with many firsts in British automobile and aviation history, died in Builth Wells, Radnorshire, Wales. Between 1884 and 1888 he circumnavigated the world four times under sail, and participated in the first London to Brighton Rally in 1896. He was a King’s Messenger between 1900 and 1909, driving the first motor vehicle into Whitehall Court, carrying foreign dispatches, on 12 November 1902, and carrying the Anglo-Russian Entente from Saint Petersburg to London in 1907. In 1908 he offered a gold cup to the first airman to fly the English Channel, and this trophy was won by Louis Blériot in 1909. Two weeks later, on 10 August 1909, Hubert Latham flew a letter addressed to Windham from France to England, believed to be the first letter ever transported by air. Windham controlled the first aerial meeting in England, held at Doncaster; and at Bournemouth, in 1910, he entered a monoplane and a biplane which he had constructed, winning a prize in the competition. In December 1910, Windham made the first passenger flight in Asia and, in 1911, he founded the world’s first two airmail services: the first, established in February 1911, from Allahabad crossing the Ganges, and the second, established in September 1911, between Hendon and Windsor. Special stamps and envelopes were issued. He served in the Royal Indian Navy during the First World War, rising to the rank of Commander. Walter Windham was invested as a Knight Bachelor in 1923 and made a Freeman of the City of London in 1933.