Gerald Alfred Birks hailed from Montreal. He soloed in 2.5 hours and went to Italy with the unusually high total of 138 hours flight time, where he joined No. 66 Squadron in March 1918. Assigned to C Flight, he soon became a favorite wingman of Capt. William Barker, and the aggressive pair cut a wide swath, almost constantly flying air-air and air-ground sorties. On 24 May, in a large dogfight, Birks shot down the Berg flown by Josef Kiss, CO of Flik 55J. Birks, who genuinely mastered the Camel, also was credited with another Austro-Hungarian ace, Karl Patzelt, CO of Flik 68J. By late June Birks was credited with 12 confirmed victories (all destroyed or captured), with 10 positively identified and two more likely. Eight of his victories came in May alone.
Barker asked Birks to go with him to France but by then Birks was tired and in need of a rest. Years later he said that he didn't think he'd have survived Barker's epic VC mission, being largely worn out. Very, very few RFC/RAF scout pilots came close to Birks' ratio of verified victories.
Interesting to note is that Birks did a little training in Canada after returning from Italy and finished his aviation career with 311 hours total time!
A patron of the arts, he remained an active painter until shortly before his death in Toronto in May 1991, age 96.
Notes contributed by Barrett Tillman