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Bishop, William Avery

Given Name:
William Avery
Jméno v originále:
Original Name:
William Avery Bishop
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letecký maršál
Akademický či vědecký titul:
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Datum, místo narození:
Date and Place of Birth:
08.02.1894 Owen Sound, Ontario /
Datum, místo úmrtí:
Date and Place of Decease:
11.09.1956 Palm Beach, Florida
Nejvýznamnější funkce:
(maximálně tři)
Most Important Appointments:
(up to three)
velitel 85. perutě
Jiné významné skutečnosti:
(maximálně tři)
Other Notable Facts:
(up to three)
stíhací eso 1. sv. války (72 vítězství)
nositel Viktoriina kříže
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Given Name:
William Avery
Jméno v originále:
Original Name:
William Avery Bishop
Všeobecné vzdělání:
General Education:
Vojenské vzdělání:
Military Education:
Důstojnické hodnosti:
Officer Ranks:
Průběh vojenské služby:
Military Career:
Automaticky vyplněné položky:
DD.03.1918-01.04.1918 Velitel : 85. peruť RFC
01.04.1918-DD.06.1918 Velitel : 85. peruť RAF

Ručně vyplněné položky:


Vojenský kříž
Military Cross


Řád Za vynikající službu
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)


Viktoriin kříž
Victoria Cross


Řád Za vynikající službu
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)


Záslužný letecký kříž
Distinguished Flying Cross


Jubilejní stříbrná medaile Krále Jiřího V
King George V Silver Jubilee Medal


Korunovační medaile 1937
Coronation Medal 1937


Řád lázně člen (vojenský) 3. třída
Order of Bath Companion (Mil.) 3rd Class


Korunovační medaile 1953
Coronation Medal 1953


Řád Čestné legie 5. třída
Order of Legion of Honour 5th Class
Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur Chevalier


Hvězda 1914-15
1914-15 Star


Uveden v rozkazu
Mentioned in Despatches


Válečná medaile 1939-1945
War Medal 1939-1945


Kanadská medajle za dobrovolou službu
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal / Medaille canadiene du voluntaire


Kanadská dekorácia za výkon
Canadian Efficiency Decoration
Canadian Efficiency Decoration (ED)


Válečný kříž
Cross of War
Croix de Guerre
s palmou / with palm


Britská válečná medaile stříbrná
British War Medal Silver

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William Avery "Billy" Bishop is regarded as the most successful fighter of the British Empire during World War I. In terms of the number of victories awarded, he was. Today, as historical scholarship seeks to dispel the foggy haze of legend, the question inevitably arises as to whether he rightly...


He was born on February 8, 1894, in the town of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, the youngest of three sons of William and Margaret Bishop.

Reginald Worth Bishop was the first born in 1884. He did not even know his next older brother Hiram Kilbourne, who died at the age of five in 1892, two years before Billy was born.

The last child of the Bishops was a daughter, Mary Louise, two years after Billy.

Billy was a wild boy who, moreover, did not excel much at school, which must have been something of a disappointment to his father, a respected lawyer.

With his poor grades, it was out of the question for him to get into college, so he decided on a military career and enrolled at the Military Royal College (the equivalent of America's West Point).

He passed the entrance exam with "scratched ears" and, in truth, rather thanks to the intercession of his older brother Worth, who was one of the highest-ranking students in the college's history. The headmaster, however, said of William that he did not have high hopes for him.

Billy Bishop as a cadet at the Royal Military College
Image source:

Apparently he had a good guess of people, as Bishop had to take the remedial exams in the very first year in an alternative term. He continued in a similar vein, with disciplinary infractions adding to his poor grades. The problems culminated in his third year, when he was caught copying during exams in May 1914. He was immediately sent home with the understanding that he would most likely be expelled from school during the holidays.

But in August 1914, war broke out in Europe and Bishop, like thousands of other young Canadians, heeded the call of his king far across the sea and volunteered.

At this point, the situation changed. Cadets who volunteered to go to the front, although they had not yet finished school, were given officer ranks. Bishop, being a skilled horseman and an excellent shot, was made a lieutenant of cavalry.

At war

Bishop was originally assigned to the Mississauga Cavalry Regiment, with which he was to sail for Europe as early as October 1, 1914. However, he contracted pneumonia and did not sail until 8 June 1915, as a member of the 7th Regiment of Canadian Mounted Rifles, for England aboard the Caledonia. The ship arrived at Plymouth Pier on 23 June 1915.

The Mounted Rifles set up their camp at Shorncliffe and began their rigorous training. Bishop was not too happy about it, however, after only a month of suffering, in July 1915, an event happened that changed his whole life. A plane landed near their training ground and Bishop left the following memory of the moment:

"I think it was the mud that got me flying... I managed to get muddy up to my knees when suddenly a small plane came out of a storm somewhere.

It landed hesitantly in a nearby field, as if trying not to brush its wings against such a dirty landscape; then it took off again into the clear grey mist.

I don't know how long I stood there looking into the distance, but when I turned to go back across the mud, I was determined. I knew there was only one place for me from this day forward - above the clouds in the summer sun."

Bishop promptly applied to join the Royal Flying Corps - RFC. However, he was told that he would have to wait about 6 months for a pilot course, so he nodded at the offer to become a gunner, as this would allow him to start the course earlier.

Deck gunner

Bishop was commissioned into the RFC in September 1915 and was immediately sent to the deck gunners' course. On graduating he became a member of 21st Squadron RFC, which was based at Netheravon Airfield at the time. In January 1916, the squadron flew to France to Boisdinghem airfield.

Bishop flew as a gunner in R.E.7 and B.E.2c. However, he did not experience any aerial combat during his service. During that time, he suffered a knee injury when his pilot crashed on landing.

Ironically, Bishop then aggravated the injury himself when he fell while drunk. There's no point disguising that Bishop drank quite a lot - throughout his career he was known as a "jolly fellow", capable of handling a considerable amount of alcohol.

However, Bishop said nothing to anyone, as he was taking leave on 21 May 1916 and did not want to let it go to waste. In England, however, the pain became so bad that he had to go to a military hospital, where on a general examination the doctors found not only knee problems but also heart problems. Bishop was hospitalized and his return to France was ruled out for the time being.


After his release from hospital, Bishop was given convalescent leave at home in Canada. He returned to England in September 1916 and again applied for pilot training. Again he was refused and it seemed that if he returned to France it would be as an observer.

Bishop, however, had one ace up his sleeve, which he now decided to bring out. During his convalescence he had made the acquaintance of Lady St. Helier, the wife of a London alderman, who had many contacts in the highest places.

The Baroness pulled the right strings, and in October 1916 Bishop reported to the Naval Aviation School at Oxford to begin basic training. Here he made the most of his experience from his five-month deployment at the front - excelling in topography, navigation and meteorology. He easily passed his exams and was sent for further training at Upavon, where he finally started to actually fly.

Bishop was not a very good student pilot. By his own admission, he did not have the necessary flair and aptitude for flying. So, although he was not good at piloting on his own, he eventually earned good results and passed the course. He received his wings in November 1916.

He was then enrolled on a night flying course, and for several weeks he took part in the pursuit of German airships bombing England at night, but had no success. He then underwent an advanced course in air tactics and aerial gunnery. Upon completion, Bishop was sent to France.

With the 60th Squadron

On 9 March 1917, he reported to 60 Squadron, armed with French Nieuports 17 with Lewis machine guns on the upper carrier. The "60th" had a sterling reputation at the time, especially thanks to Albert Ball, but he had recently been transferred to 56 Squadron.

Bishop was assigned to "C" Squadron, commanded by the famous Grid" Caldwell, from whom he began to gain his first experience.

None of the officers present, however, would have guessed that the newcomer Bishop would soon be referred to as having "inherited the mantle of the great Ball".

Especially when, on his return from his first patrol, he crashed on landing and broke his plane, all in full view of General Higgins, Commander of the 3rd RFC Brigade, who was inspecting the 60th Squadron airfield. The General immediately ordered Bishop sent back to England for further training.

Bishop therefore had to complete another 20 hours of solo flying before he could take off on his next patrol.

This took place on 25 March 1917 and saw Bishop's first combat. He flew as part of a four-man patrol that soon engaged a trio of German Albatros D.II fighters.
Bishop pursued one German fighter to the ground and shot it down.

But Bishop only now realized the difficulty of his own situation. He had lost his bearings during the chase and did not know which side of the trenches he was on. Moreover, his engine had stopped, clogged with oil from the long descent. So he quickly selected an area for an emergency landing. Upon landing, he saw enemy soldiers coming towards him, so he jumped into the ditch, gun in hand, to defend himself. Fortunately, they turned out to be British, so Bishop did not fall into captivity in the first battle.

Ironically, Bishop made a bravura landing in difficult terrain, his Nieuport was hardly damaged. Bishop spent the night in the infantry trenches, awaited the arrival of a technical party who loaded his Nieuport onto a flatbed and returned to the airfield.

According to Bishop's recollection, no one cared that he didn't blink an eye that night, and for his first kill, he was immediately "rewarded" by being posted as the commander of the next patrol over the trenches. When the marathon patrols were over, Bishop fell into bed and slept for 16 hours straight.

In the days that followed, Bishop fought several more aerial battles, but by the end of March he had won only one more victory.

Bishop himself remarked after one unsuccessful fight: "I should have destroyed that German, but bad shooting allowed him to escape. After returning home that day I practiced for an hour on the ground square target. Since then I have devoted as much time as possible to practicing my marksmanship, and I think I owe most of my success to the accuracy I have acquired by doing so."
As a pilot, he was never an expert aerobatic pilot, but he mastered flying from a purely practical standpoint. He was always able to maneuver his aircraft to get into a shooting position, which he believed, along with precision shooting, was a recipe for success:

"If a pilot wants to fight successfully, he must have absolute control of his aircraft. He must develop a feel for where the plane is, in what position and how it is flying, so that he can maneuver quickly without losing sight of himself or his opponents.

He must be able to perform a roll, put the plane on its back, and control a variety of other aerobatics - not that he really needs these things in a serious aerial fight - but the very fact that he has done all this many times gives him absolute confidence, and if it comes to a fight he need not worry about how his machine will react.

He can concentrate all his attention on overpowering his opponent because he then does the aerial part completely instinctively. This part of piloting, therefore, though the most difficult to master in training, is the least important in combat.

One can be a perfect pilot. He can control an aeroplane like no one else in the world, but if he goes into aerial combat and always risks his life again to fly into the right shooting position and then fails to hit, it is all useless.

Unable to shoot down his opponent, he always has to gamble his life again to get rid of his opponent. Therefore, I see good aerial target shooting as the most important factor in aerial combat."

This view was shared by many of the great aces, and many of them regarded the sharp turn as the most exotic combat manoeuvre. Richthofen, for example, claimed that working machine guns were more important in combat than a working engine, and that he would never execute a somersault. Mannock, on the other hand, said that flying alone had never shot down anyone.

In early April 1917, the British Army was preparing an offensive at Arras, and part of these preparations included blinding enemy reconnaissance. On 7 April, Bishop was also sent to contribute to this effort by shooting down a German observation balloon, though he had to face a surprise attack by a German fighter, which he managed to shoot down as well.

On the second day, it was Easter Sunday, 8 April 1917, he scored three kills and became an ace. He attacked a two-seater protected by a fighter escort and scored not only a two-seater but also two fighters to protect it.

The successes brought awards as well - by the end of April, Bishop had 14 victories to his credit, including two balloons. On 25 April, a month after his first engagement, he was promoted to the rank of captain, appointed commander of "C" Squadron, 60 Squadron, and awarded the Military Cross. All that glory went to Bishop's head. It did him good and he decided to raise his score as fast as he could. Some days, he would record as much as 8 hours in the air in his flight log. On the last day of April, for example, he participated in ten straight air matches.

Overall, however, things did not go well for the RFC in April, although the British continued their air offensive after heavy losses.

On 2 May, Bishop completed twelve combat sorties and in total fought 23 enemy aircraft that day. On one of these sorties Bishop attacked three German observation aircraft flying along the front, directing artillery fire and protected by fighter escort. He shot down two, although he was attacked by four of the escort's machines. Nevertheless, he managed to return home safely. For this engagement, he was awarded the DSO, which was usually awarded to senior officers (from major upwards). If it was awarded to a junior officer, it was generally considered a great honour.

Victoria Cross

On the evening of 6 May, according to the book The Courage of the Early Morning (Bishop's biography written by his son William Arthur Bishop), the 60th Squadron was supposedly visited by Albert Ball, Britain's greatest ace at the time. Ball came up with a bold plan - he wanted to neutralize Richthofen's "circus" by attacking the German airfields around Douai (Jasta 11 was then based at Roucourt, about 10 km southeast of Douai[/i]) at dawn one day and try to destroy as many planes on the ground as possible. Ball is said to have not only briefed Bishop on his plan, but also asked him to join his expedition.

It should be noted here that historians do not give much credence to this story. First of all, Ball had a whole bunch of great pilots in the 56th Squadron and he didn't have to go around to neighboring squadrons and "beg" them (notabenot to choose Bishop, who, although he had already gotten some kills, was still a rookie with barely 6 weeks of frontline deployment). Second, Ball was on patrol on the evening of May 6, according to 56 Squadron records, and did not return from patrol until 20:40.

Either way, however, Ball fell himself the very next day after the alleged meeting and did not carry out the plan. Bishop made up his mind to try it himself.

On the morning of June 2, he was awakened at 3:00 a.m. to take off with the first rays of sunlight. (He was supposed to fly with William Fry, a future ace of the time with 4 kills, but because he was indisposed after an evening party, Bishop had to make do on his own.)

Soon he was indeed flying through the cold darkness over the silent trenches. On the enemy side of the lines, however, he completely lost his bearings. When, after much wandering, he finally made out the airfield on the ground, he found that it showed no sign of life and was probably abandoned. Disappointed, he wanted to look for another ground target and after a few minutes of aimless flying he suddenly found himself over another airfield. And it was just coming to life.

Bishop spotted seven planes at its edge, several of them with their propellers turning. Mechanics scurried among them, getting them ready to fly as soon as possible.

Bishop registered that one of the planes was a two-seater and attacked it, not wanting the two-seater to get airborne as it might be covered by the rear gunner's fire during takeoff.

He opened fire and saw the illuminated missiles falling on and around the planes. He saw one man fall and the others ran to him to carry him away. Bishop flew over them and converted his Nieuport into a turn, during which he spotted four Albatross D.III taking off.

He shot down one during takeoff and attacked the other three in mid-air. He shot down two of them, and since by that time all the anti-aircraft guns on the airfield were firing at him and he saw holes appearing in the wing coverings, he decided to disappear. He quickly escaped to the British side of the trenches and headed home.

Here, on his return, he wrote up a report which Major Scott, the 60 Squadron commander, passed on above, and this subsequently caused a great stir.

Here again it is worth recalling the somewhat unusual channel through which the report travelled, for Scott took Bishop to the headquarters of the Third Army, where his old friend Captain Lord Dalmeny was serving as secretary to the Army Commander, General Edmund Allenby. Allenby received and interviewed both officers and enthusiastically proposed Bishop for decoration with Victoria Cross, Britain's highest decoration.

In the citation for this decoration, however, the story was somewhat improved - Bishop was, according to him, on a mission, so it was not an unauthorised action on his own, there was also no mention of wandering, etc.

Over the next few days, telegrams and congratulations literally poured in, including one from General Trenchard, the RFC commander, in which he described Bishop's attack as "the best solo action of the war".


If we look at the whole action a little more soberly, we have no choice but to shrug our shoulders, somewhat embarrassed to say the least. For example, the list of Bishop's victories includes those three downed Albatross D.IIIs, although according to the rules in force at the time, the RFC should not have recognized them at all.

The whole event took place about 25 km behind the front line, out of sight of the balloon observers, and Bishop flew alone, so he had no witnesses.

There is also the question of which airfield Bishop actually attacked. He himself stated in his report that it was either Esnes or Awoingt. Later researchers have tended to think it was Estourmel. French informants were said to have confirmed the destruction of one Rumpler and the killing of one mechanic at Estourmel, but no air unit was said to be based there at the time.

The problem was attempted to be solved by aviation historian Philip Markham, who went through the available Luftstreitkräfte records of the time and his conclusion was unsatisfactory - no German airfield reported being attacked and no unit reported losses.

The controversy surrounding this event came to a head in 1983, when Canadian director Paul Cowan made the documentary The Kid Who Couldn't Miss (The Kid Who Couldn't Miss). In this documentary, he declared the entire event to be fabricated and even claimed that the bullet holes on the plane were self-inflicted by Bishop with his personal weapon!

The documentary sparked a wave of disapproval among Canadian veterans as well as sections of the public. The matter went all the way to a Canadian Senate committee, but the authors refused to withdraw the document.

As a counterbalance, a documentary called The Billy Bishop Controversy (The Billy Bishop Controversy) was made with funds from the non-profit organization War Amps, which was intended to appear more balanced, with the underlying idea being that the lack of corroborating documents from the German side alone did not mean that the whole thing had not taken place.

On the other hand, it cannot be overlooked that of the 19 Great War airmen who were awarded the Victoria Cross, only Bishop received it on the basis of his own uncorroborated testimony...

The war continues

On 7 June 1917, British troops launched an attack on the Messina Ridge. The RFC squadrons threw themselves into the battle boldly, and the fighters were very successful in covering their own observation machines directing artillery fire.

By this time the superiority of the RFC fighters had reached such a level that the German fighter units in the area tried to avoid clashes with the British fighter escorts at all costs.

Bishop also shot down one Albatros D.III as early as 8 June, but came up empty in the following days, as did most of his colleagues.

The frustration of the pilots of 60 Squadron reached such a level that on 15 June Bishop led 15 Nieuports of all three squadrons of the squadron over the German airfield at Epinoy to provoke the German fighters into combat, but they did not engage them.

Bishop thus gained another confirmed victory on 24 June. By then the Battle of Messines had already ended in success for the British, with the capture of Messines Ridge, but preparations for the third offensive at Ypres were at their peak.

The fighting continued to escalate. By the end of June Bishop had increased his score to 31 kills.

Bishop in front of his Nieuport 23 serial number B1566 at Filescamp Farm, July 1917. A well-known photo, often marred by censor interference (compare with the same photo in this thread below). One of the most successful Nieuports in the RFC. Bishop scored 29 kills on it. Later handed over to 1st Squadron, crashed on 17 Aug 1917. After repairs handed over to Egypt in Nov 1917, finally scrapped and scrapped on 30 May 1919.
Image source:

The beginning of July brought a plan to rearm the squadron. 60 Squadron was to become the second RFC unit to be armed with the excellent SE.5. It had received some of the machines from 56 Squadron, which had been armed with them first, but was now rearming with the new S.E.5a.

The first flight on this type was made by Grid Caldwell on 7 July, the squadron pilots began training on the new type but still took off for patrols in their Nieuports.

Three days later, the squadron pilots were playing tennis in the evening when the alarm siren sounded. British troops stationed at Monchy-le-Preux were attacked by 12 German aircraft. Seven squadron pilots, including Bishop and Major Scott, jumped into the cabins of Nieuports and took off against the enemy. The battle occurred at an altitude of only 300 meters. Major Scott set one Albatross on fire, his fifth victory, and Bishop shot down another, but Scott's Nieuport was severely damaged and Scott himself badly wounded.

After landing, mechanics extricated him from the cockpit, with a badly injured left arm. Scott was sent to hospital and never returned to the unit.

The squadron command was assumed by Capt. Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick, by then A Squadron Commander with 23 Squadron and an ace with 21 kills.

Rearmament was completed at the end of July and it was Billy Bishop who opened the scoring on the new type when he shot down another Albatros D.III on his S.E.5 on 28 July.

On the same day the British command prepared the start of the third offensive at Ypres, but the weather was very bad and the start of the attack was postponed until 31 July.

Despite the bad weather, the pilots of 60 Squadron continued to patrol over the front.

A three-man swarm consisting of Bishop, Caldwell and Lt. Gunner, MC (2 kills) attacked the two-seat Aviatik, but the trio of Brits had to face an attack by four Albatross D.III from Jasta 12 alone.

Lieutenant Gunner's engine began to fail, so he turned behind his own lines, but unfortunately this put him too far away from his shipmates. Moreover, the lone S.E.5a did not escape the attention of the German leader, who was none other than Lieutenant Adolf von Tutschek, Staffelführer Jasta 12. Tutschek immediately took off after the escaping British fighter. Bishop and Caldwell spotted his black Albatross and both fired several rounds at it from long range, hoping that the German would be frightened and leave their friend alone. Unfortunately, however, Tutschek was an old hand, he completed the attack and Gunner perished, shot down in flames. It was Tutschek's 21st victory and the 100th anniversary victory for Jasta 12...

The fight continued, however, with the remaining three Albatrosses badly pinning down the two Englishmen, joined by their black-painted leader. Bishop hit one Albatross and was later credited with an "out of control" kill. Caldwell's two machine guns jammed, and with a pair of Germans on his tail, he plummeted furiously to the ground. The Germans eventually gave up the chase and turned back to Bishop.

Caldwell's dive picked up a mere 25 meters above the ground, where he discovered that the machine guns could not be repaired and, at the same time, that Bishop was in a pickle. Caldwell didn't hesitate, turned the machine around and, though defenseless, began to climb back toward the fighting aircraft.

His return forced the Germans to end the skirmish, and the two Brits made it home safely just before a heavy storm broke out, which ended all flying action for the next two days...

The early part of August was again marked by bad weather, it continued to rain and it was not until 5 August that conditions improved sufficiently for 60 Squadron's offensive patrols to resume. Bishop shot down two more Albatrosses that day.

On 11 August, a grand celebration of Bishop's Victoria Cross was held at the squadron. J. Warne, 60 Squadron chronicler, commented: "It was a wonder that the place did not lie in ashes. Brigadier Higgins, commanding the III Brigade, was thrown out of the mess window, but returned immediately to serve someone else anyway. Uniforms were torn; the piano received its fair share of champagne, as usual; and even the rats were disturbed by the noise and din, fleeing to the shelter of the unoccupied cabins of the careless commoners."

By 16 August, Bishop's score had reached 47 confirmed victories, and the following day he left the squadron for a leave of absence in England and Canada. He was first summoned to Buckingham Palace, where His Majesty the King George V pinned the War Cross, Order of Distinguished Service and Victoria Cross on his chest. The King also told him that it was the first time he had had the opportunity to present all three honours to the same man at the same time.


In September, Bishop returned to Canada, and as a well-known figure. He was celebrated wherever he showed up. He was carried triumphantly through the streets of Toronto, addressing crowds at many rallies. He became the object of the same crowd hysteria that popular movie and music stars are today. Then, when he arrived in the United States, he was almost crushed by his admirers, for the U.S. had only recently entered the war and war heroes were very much in vogue there.

While on leave, Bishop married Margaret Burden, originally from Toronto, whose brother, Captain Henry Burden, was also a fighter ace.

Before Bishop and his wife returned to England, he was assigned to non-combat duties, including recruiting volunteers. He also wrote his memoirs Winged Warfare[/b:aaaaa] (Winged Warfare).

In England, he was first appointed commander of an advanced aerial gunnery school. He was also re-admitted by the King, who promoted him to Major and decorated him with a pin to the DSO for Bishop's 45th kill. He was awash with glory at the time. The pilots at his school worshipped him almost like a god. The royal princesses came to tea at his wife's house and he himself was invited daily to dinner at the homes of London's elite. But Bishop had yet to finally rest.

[B]Bishop already had a VC, DSO and MC ribbon on his blouse at the time. Since this photo is from his book Winged Warfare, it can be assumed that the photo was taken sometime between his first and second operational deployments

Zdroj obrá

At 85 Squadron

The spring of 1918 brought a sudden wartime crisis. The Germans launched their massive spring offensive in March and began to badly press the British troops. The British Air Force launched a continuous series of deep strikes to slow to a halt the offensive.

In this difficult situation, the British command was throwing all available new troops to the front. Also in March 1918 Bishop was appointed commander of 85 Squadron, armed with S.E.5a aircraft.

Bishop had extensive powers during the unit's construction, allowing him to choose his own personnel (Among other things, he brought in former comrade-in-arms "Nigger" Horn, whom he offered the position of C Squadron Commander with his squadron).

His school at the time also had among its students a group of Americans who were known as "jolly men", men after Bishop's own heart.

Bishop pushed for them to serve in his squadron, but this was not mere favoritism; Bishop had a nose for men - Callahan and Springs later became Aces. Bishop even didn't hesitate to send Springs to a continuation course during his training when he didn't think his skills were sufficient for front-line deployment.

By April, the formation of the unit was complete, and on 22 May 1918 Bishop was preparing his unit for a ceremonial departure, of which John Grider left a humorous memoir in his diary:
"Mrs. Bishop asked us to keep a good watch on the Major and not to let any Hun get behind the tail of his plane. (...) All 19 planes lined up for takeoff in formation and we started warming up the engines. (...) Bishop lined us up in front of the spectators and a general made a short speech to us. Then Bishop gave us our final orders. He told us that Lympne airfield would be our first stop, to be careful of the wind bag and to land directly into the wind. But he didn't say 'windbag', he called it a word that is only used where there are no ladies and gentlemen. Immediately realizing this, he blushed, the ladies pulled down their parasols, Bishop ran, jumped into his machine, and we all took off at once..."

The squadron moved to Marquis near Boulogne, its first base in France. However, three days later the squadron moved to Petite Synthe.

It was also Bishop who opened the squadron's score on 27 May 1918 when he shot down a two-seater east of Passchendaele.

He shot down two Germans the very next day and added three more kills on 30 May.

Bishop often flew alone at this time and joined his squadron pilots on patrol only occasionally.

One such instance was captured in his diary by John Grider:

Springs"Springs tried to find the six Huns who had previously followed him home. The Nigger and MacGregor wanted to take a little "trip", so they took off all at once. I couldn't fly with them because my plane's engine was "bad". Just as they flew over the trenches, Bishop joined them and led them to the same six Huns in the same place where Springs had "bumped" into them earlier, at the same time. (...) The Huns are so methodical! They flew in two swarms of three above each other. Bish and Mac attacked the bottom "layer" and Springs and Nigger the top. Bish and Mac got one each, while Springs shot down one without control, but no one saw the German aeroplane crash on the ground, so Springs will not be officially credited. It must have been quite a fight. They were all Pfalz D.IIIa fighters, which are no match for our S.E.5a."[/i]

The event is dated 5 June in the diary, but depending on the type of enemy aircraft, the fight was probably on 1 or 2 June, when Bishop was credited with shooting down the D.III Pfalz.

At that time Bishop was reportedly told that he would soon be transferred back to England to do purely administrative work at RAF Headquarters. As soon as Bishop heard this, he left all the "paperwork" with the squadron and now did nothing but constantly scour the skies looking for German aircraft.

His phenomenal record from the end of his combat deployment is often cited, when during the last four days of his combat deployment, between 16 and 19 June, Bishop achieved a quite unique feat. In fact, during these four days he was credited with a total of 12 kills, 5 of which were on the last day! In all, he thus achieved 25 confirmed victories during his time with the 85th Squadron, during 24 days of operational deployment.

As great as that looks, unfortunately, once again, we run into one small but...

In 1987, historian Ed Ferko subjected this feat to scrutiny, attempting to reconcile Bishop's claims with the documented German losses listed in the Verlustliste der Deutschen Luftstreitkrafte im Weltkriege
(the official German list of airmen killed in WWI); also in the records of Kofl 2, Kofl 4 and Kofl 6; and the combat diaries of the German Jast. Unfortunately, he failed to confirm a single victory...

As an example, Bishop's very last battle, on 19 June, was reported by Bishop: "1,100 ft. 1 mile from Ploeggsteert. 9:58 a.m.
After flying over the lines in the clouds, I emerged from them over Ploegsteert woods, where I saw three Pfalz fighters attacking. Two more Pfalz were approaching from the east. I fired a short burst at one of the original three enemy aircraft. It went down in a dive. The second and third N.L.s collided and crashed while circling around me. The first N.L. crashed and burned one and a half miles east of Ploegsteert. The other two N.L.s turned and flew east. I pursued them and opened fire on one of them at 200 yards. The N.L. hit the ground. The last N.L. escaped into the clouds.
900 feet. Between Neuve Eglise and Ploegsteert, 10:10 a.m.
I hit a two-seater and attacked from behind and below. The N.L. was on fire. Then I shelled a small group of soldiers on the ground and dispersed them. I climbed into the clouds and flew off to the west."

It is worth noting about this engagement that, according to German and British records, air activity that day was very low, and the German Jasty reported the loss of all but one pilot.
There was also a crew of Bristol F.2B from 22 Squadron in the vicinity of the duel, but they only saw the collision of the two Pfalz, nothing more...

With this duel, Bishop capped off his illustrious career. With a total of 72 credited kills, he became the most successful British ace of World War I.

He was recalled to England and never returned to operational flying.

Despite his undoubted personal qualities, Bishop was not a good commander. He was a strong individualist who still refused to take responsibility for the lives of his subordinates and therefore always insisted on flying alone. This, of course, had a demoralizing effect on his pilots, although it is true that when any of his fellow pilots were in combat with Bishop, Bishop did everything he could to ensure that none of his comrades were shot down.

One of the slogans he drilled into his pilots' heads was:"It is a matter of honour to help a friend who is in trouble, no matter what the consequences for you. There's only one thing to do, and that's to go out of your way to give your friend moral support."

Still, when Mick Mannock took command of the squadron, the flying staff was in a sorry state of morale...

During his nine months of front-line deployment, Bishop flew more than 200 sorties and was credited with shooting down 72 German aircraft. Some of his tactical lessons made it into the RAF training syllabus.

He was awarded the DFC on 3 August 1918 for his exploits during the last days of his combat deployment. When the King pinned this decoration on him, he uttered with typical dry English humour: "You now hold the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order, the War Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and their abbreviations after your name. If you are decorated again, we will have to give you something to add in front of your name. But perhaps then we could make you an Archbishop!" (Bishop is English for bishop, author's note).

He was also promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Commander of the Canadian Wing in the RAF.

In October 1918, he returned to Canada, where he was given the task of participating in the establishment of an independent Canadian Air Force.

After the war

In 1919, Bishop founded the Victoria Cross Barker civil aviation company with another famous ace and carrier, but shortly afterwards, in 1921, Bishop was injured in a crash and the company went bankrupt.

In late 1921 Bishop returned to England as a sales representative for his friend Gordon Perry's company, which traded in cast iron pipes.

In 1929 Bishop lost all his money in the stock market crash. But his old friend Gordon Perry saved him again when he offered him a position as vice-president of sales at his company, McColl-Frontenac Oil in Montreal. The family therefore moved back to Canada in 1930.

Last Service

During World War II, Bishop was appointed to the honorary rank of Air Marshal of the Royal Canadian Air Force ([url:aaaa]Royal Canadian Air Force[/url]) and was primarily concerned with recruiting volunteers for the air force.

On 1 June 1944, he was made a Member of the Order of the Bath for his lifetime of service to the Empire.

He died peacefully in his sleep in Florida, USA in September 1956.

Bishop controversy

Bishop has always been seen as a very controversial figure. A number of historians have either directly or indirectly accused him of virtually fabricating his kills.

To this I will add my own perspective. The German Air Force lost around 3,000 flying machines, including balloons and airships, in combat on all fronts during the entire First World War.

Yet ONLY British Aces i.e. flyers with 5 or more kills, (so not counting the successes of flyers who claimed 4 or less victories, not counting the claims of anti-aircraft units, and most importantly not counting the claims of other nations) were officially credited with less than 10,000 kills.

This was due to several circumstances; firstly, the British also classified as a kill a so-called "out of control" victory, which was a case where the enemy's stand was falling in an uncontrolled fall but its impact was not observed. Other nations did not recognize this type of victory. (During World War II, the RAF classified this type of victory as a probable kill)

Another increase was caused by situations where a kill was shared by multiple pilots, as in certain circumstances the win was credited to all winners. (During WWII, it was shared among RAF pilots on a fractional system based on the number of winners)

It is generally believed that the number of British officially recognised victories in WW1, exceeded the number of aircraft actually shot down by them by a factor of approximately six to eight.

There is no doubt that the British system of recognition of kills was very benevolent. The motive was probably moral and propagandistic, since the British Air Force bore the brunt of the Allied air offensive and also paid the highest price for its aggressive approach to the conduct of air operations, in terms of casualties, of all the nations that fought together in the air battles of World War I.

It also stands to reason that airmen with considerable force of personality and powers of persuasion could have "bent" this already rather lenient system of conceding victory to their advantage. Then it depended on the honesty and conscience of each of them.

Bishop was certainly one of those aces who were genuinely comfortable with fame and were primarily concerned with raising their personal scores at any cost.

Yet Bishop cannot be declared a lying coward, for many testimonies from pilots of both the 60th and 85th Squadrons attested that Bishop willingly accepted combat and led them into engagements even with stronger opponents, while not being considered a gambler.

Hand in hand with the glory, then, went the accolades. Bishop was certainly fond of them, but this opens up another discrepancy. Bishop, for example, wore, among other awards, the Star 1914-15. This decoration was awarded to those members of the armed forces who took part in combat deployments in 1914-15. Bishop, however, did not begin his operational deployment until early 1916. In addition, documents in the National Archives of Canada confirm that Bishop was not awarded this medal.

Bishop's medals photographed at the Canadian War Museum. From left to right: Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order plus Bar, Military Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal 1914-1920
Image source:

The controversy surrounding his person still remains and it is unlikely that this debate will ever be resolved. Apparently, the only person who really knew how it all went down at the time is more than 60 years dead...

Finally, there's nothing left but one last look at Billy Bishop from a slightly different angle again - Canadian World War II ace Russ Bannock has admitted that it was Bishop's charisma when he was directing the recruitment of volunteers that prompted him to enlist. It can be assumed that there were more of these, so Bishop, albeit indirectly, helped his country win another war.

Of little use, despite all the controversy, Bishop remains a national hero to Canadians...

Mgr. Ondrej Repka.
Norman Franks: SE 5/5a Aces of World War 1,
2007 Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978 1 84603 180 9
Alex Revell: Victoria Cross, WWI Airmen and Their Aircraft, 1997, Flying Machines Press
ISBN 1-891268-00-7
Norman Franks, Russell Guest, Christopher Shores: Above the Trenches, Grub Street Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0-948817-19-4
Alex Revell: No 60 Sqn RFC/RAF, 2011 Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN: 978 1 84908 333 1
Christopher Shores: British and Empire Aces of World War I, Osprey Publishing; ISBN-10: 1841763772, ISBN-13: 978-1841763774
Elliott White Springs: Birds of Prey Over the Front
John Norman Harris: Knights of the Air, 1998, Toužimský and Moravec, ISBN: 80-85773-90-2
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Table kills W. And. Bishop's according to Above the Trenches:
Ord. noDateTimethe Type of the destroyed aircraft
Custom machine
UnitInstead ofClassification of the killNote 9:35Albatros D.IIthe Nieuport 17 s. no A306
60. squadronnorth St. Legerdestroyed D.IINieuport 23 s. no A6769
60. squadronnorth Gavrelledestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no A6769
60. squadronArrasknocked down to a disorderly fall of the 23 s. no A676960.
Vis en Artoisdestroyed CNieuport 23 s. no A6769
60. squadron
Douai-FlesquierresdestroyedIn co - Owner. And. J. L.
Scott on the Nieuport A6647 D.IIINieuport 23 s. no A6769
60. squadronnortheast of Arrasknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIINieuport 23 s. no A6769
60. squadronVitry en Artoisknocked down to a disorderly fall of the 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronBiache St. Vaastdestroyed in fire D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadroneast of Vimyknocked down to a disorderly fall of the CNieuport 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronVitry en Artoisdestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadroneast of Vitrydestroyed 23 s. no B156660.
Vitry en Artoisdestroyed D.IINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadroneast of Epinoydestroyed in fire 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronto the southeast Lensdestroyed C.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadroneast of Epinoydestroyed C.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadroneast of Epinoyknocked down to a disorderly fall of the C. IVNieuport 23 s. no B1566
60. squadron
Brebieres-VitrydestroyedIn co - Lt. W. M. Fry on the
Nieuport B1597 D.IIINieuport 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronnorth Vitryknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronBrebieresknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronIzel les Esquerchinknocked down to a disorderly fall of the 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronDourgies-Monchydestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronEpinoydestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronspace Estourmeldestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronspace Estourmeldestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no B1566
60. squadronspace Estourmeldestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronnorth Lilledestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronBeaumontdestroyed in fire D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronDuryknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronAnnay-north Etaingdestroyed in fire D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronAnnay-north Etaingknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronDrocourt-La Basseedestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronVitry-Quieryknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronVitry-Douaidestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronHavrincourtdestroyed in fire D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadronMarquion-Queantdestroyed D.IIINieuport 23 s. no
60. squadron6 miles southeast Havrincourtknocked to the
a disorderly fall of the D.IIIWith.E.5a s. no A8936
60. squadronPhalempindestroyed in fire D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadronBeaumontknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadronHendecourt-Monchydestroyed in fire D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadronHendecourt-Monchyknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadronBrebieresdestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadron
Escourt St. Quentindestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadron5 miles south of Douaidestroyed in fire D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadron5 miles south of Douaidestroyed in fire D.InWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadron
Henin Lietardknocked down to a disorderly fall of the seaterWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadronHarnesdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no A8936
60. squadron
Carvindestroyed seaterWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadroneast of Passchendaeledestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
southwest Cortemarckdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
southwest Cortemarckdestroyed seaterWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadronRoulersdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
Roulersdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
5 miles north of Armentieresdestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
Quesnoydestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
2 miles north of Estairesdestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C649085.
La Gorguedestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C649085.
south of Armentieresdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
3 miles from Nieuportdestroyed in fire D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C6490
85. squadron
Leffingheknocked down to a disorderly fall of the D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
east of Estairesdestroyed seaterWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadroneast of Armentieresdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
Armentieresdestroyed seaterWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
Staden-Hooglededestroyed in fire seaterWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
Sailly sur la Lysdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
Laventiedestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
to the northeast of Ypresdestroyed D.In theWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
to the northeast of Ypresdestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
1.5 miles east of Ploegsteertdestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
east of Ploegsteertdestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
east of Ploegsteertdestroyed D.IIIWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
east of Ploegsteertdestroyed seaterWith.E.5a p. no C1904
85. squadron
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Bishop v kokpitu svého Nieuportu 17 připravuje k palbě kulomet Lewis na jednoduchém nosiči Foster.
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Oceňujem pomerne vyčerpávajúci životopis, pokúsim sa stručne doplniť:
Bishop sa narodil 1894 v Ontáriu, v roku 1911 vstúpil do Military College. Po jeho absolvovaní pridelený k 14. bataliónu kanadských horských strelcov, s ktorým odchádza po vypuknutí vojny do Anglicka. V júni 1915 je po niekoľkých neúspešných žiadostiach napokon prijatý k Royal Falying Corps. 10.5.1917 sa dostáva do súboja s 19 nemeckými lietadlami, dve zostreľuje a sám so svojim úplne roztrieľaným Nieuportom šťastne pristáva na materskom letisku.

čo sa týka jeho útoku na nemecké letisko, bolo to podľa prameňa: Václav Kubec - Hvězda první velikosti - L+K 7/70 následovne:
2.6.1917 letí na novom Nieuporte Scout č. B 1566 nad frontovú líniu a mieri priamo na nemecké letisko. Paľbou z guľometou zapaluje dva nepriateľské stroje a hneď na to prijal súboj s tromi nemeckými stíhačmi. V krátkom okamihu zostreľuje všetky tri nepriateľské lietadlá a za necelých päťdesiat minút po štarte pristáva na základni. Za tento hrdinský a v prvej svetovej vojne nikým neprekonaný čin dostáva 11.8.1917 najvyššie britské vyznamenanie Victoria Cross.

a ešte niekoľko informácií:
Keď dosiahol 45 víťazstiev je v auguste 1917 povýšený na majora, no zároveň je odvolaný z frontu do Kanady, kde pôsobí ako šéf leteckých inštruktorov do mája 1918. 22.5.1918 preberá velenie 85. stíhacej sqadrony a vracia sa do Francúzska. Počas 12 dní zostrelil 25 nemeckých stíhačiek, z toho 12 v troch dňoch. V júli 1918 je definitívne stiahnutý z fronty. Za necelých 9 mesiacov služby stíhača na fronte dosiahol 72 oficiálnych víťazstiev. Je odvolaný do Anglicka, potom odchádza do Kanady, aby zorganizoval kanadské vzdušné sily. Počas druhej svetovej vojny velil letecký maršál W.A.Bishop v kanadsko-britskom letectve. Zomrel 11.9.1956 v spánku.
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Decorations of William Avery Bishop, exhibits Technical Museum Berlin

(©Radek Havelka)
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S.E. 5 sériového čísla A`8936 sloužil v srpnu 1917 u 60. perutě RFC na letišti Filescamp Farm. Jeho pilotem byl Capt. W. A. Bishop, nejúspěšnější britské eso se 72 uznanými sestřely. Letoun byl poháněn motorem Hispano-Suiza o 150k. Na obrázku je nakreslen s dlouhými trubicemi výfuků, avšak podle fotografií se zdá, že spíše byly krátkého typu. Bishop s ním docílil od 28. 7. do 16. 8. 1917 všech 11 vítězství nárokovaných na tomto typu u 60. perutě. Stroj nese na horních a bočních plochách nátěr khaki PC 10, spodní plochy v barvě lakovaného plátna. Modré doplňky označují příslušnost k letce C, jíž Bishop v té době velel (letka A používala červené doplňky a letka B žluté) Po odchodu Bishopa zpět do Kanady stroj A`8936 používal jeho nástupce ve funkci velitele letky C Capt. S.B. Horn a dosáhl na něm dva ze svých 13 úspěchů. Letoun byl později odeslán k repasi na standard S.E. 5a, v březnu 1918 havaroval při zkušebním letu a byl vyřazen.

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better quality photo of billy bishop with his nieuportem
Bishop, William Avery - Kvalitnější foto Billyho Bishopa se svým Nieuportem. Bishop byl vysoký 168 cm.

Kvalitnější foto Billyho Bishopa se svým Nieuportem. Bishop byl vysoký 168 cm.
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After the sum of the Bishop's score from the table is the result:
45 destroyed, 2 in cooperation
16 precipitated into a disorderly fall
11 destroyed in the fire

according to the name of the machines:
31x Albatros D.III (fighter)
12x Albatros D.In (fighter)
10 vaguely dvousedadlovek
9x Pfalz D.III (fighter)
2x Albatros D.II (fighter)
2x observation balloon
2x Albatros C (recon)
2x Albatros C.III (recon)
1x Halberstadt D.II (fighter)
1x AEG C. IV (recon)

according to the types of machines:
55 fighter aircraft
15 reconnaissance machines
2 observation balloons.
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Bishop, William Avery - William A. Bishop, namalovaný Jamesem Petrem Quinnem.

William A. Bishop, namalovaný Jamesem Petrem Quinnem.
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