This is my first time posting in this forum, so I fully expect flak from some of you on here
I must confess that one of my war heroes is actually Raymond Collishaw, and I am in fact an Australian (so of course, Little ranks right up there too). WRT the claims of nationalism and idolatry floating around, I partially take the point. I also take the point that neither German nor Allied aces did all that they said they did.
My personal take on the whole matter is this - who really cares? "The history books" seem to be spoken of on here as some sort of tomes which, ideally, are totally objective and factually correct. Yet I put to you all that history books are almost never either. The reason? They're written by human beings, who are flawed individuals (no matter what flag they fly under) and it is therefore hardly surprising that they're biased and inaccurate accounts. And as an aside to those of you who might like to take shots (cheap or otherwise) at people like Bishop and Collishaw, I'd point you to Collishaw's book, "Air Command". In there he freely acknowledges that exaggerated claims were made about the war, by his own countrymen. Following an extensive list of statistical claims, he writes: "We have been told by our own statesmen that there was something in the Canadian character and temperament which allowed our young men to take to the air and enjoy a mysterious superiority over all others. All, of which, of course, adds up to sheer nonsense."
That said, in the same book Collishaw touches on what, I believe, lies at the heart of this whole debate over victories. He criticises the entire practice of using credited victories over enemy machines as a means of assessing an individual flyer's contribution in WWI. And that, it seems to me, is really on the money. Who really cares whether von Ricthofen shot down 80 or 84? If Collishaw indeed shot down 6 in a day? Does it really make a difference if a machine went down OOC or broke up in the air? Either way it was out of action for the rest of the scrap, and possibly longer! It does seem to me that we get too bogged down sometimes in an argument that will never work due to differing scoring systems and different defintions of victories, yet the end state is still the same.
You simply can't judge someone's worth or contribution to the war on how many planes they shot down (real, imagined, or mistaken).
Sorry about such a rambling post, but as you've no doubt guessed, I feel reasonably strongly about this one...
Anyway, I shall push down my goggles, ease my Camel forward, and wait for the archie to start.