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1998 Closed threads from 1998 (read only)

 
 
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Old 31 December 1998, 02:20 PM   #11
Billy_Bishop
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Yup, I can either fax you a copy, or I can scan it and email it to you. Which ever works best for you. BUT, I can't do it until Monday. The equipment I need to do this is at work.

VBR,

Al Lowe
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Old 31 December 1998, 03:22 PM   #12
Leo Sweeney
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I have greatly enjoyed the debate the merits or lack thereof for Bishops claim in his aforementioned raid. I am on the fence about the whole matter. I do rember reading something about a mechanic in the RFC stating that Bishop had not fired enough ammunition to have brought down as many planes as he said he had downed. Please don't ask me where I read it because frankly I don't remember. Does any one else have any recollection of this?
 
Old 31 December 1998, 03:32 PM   #13
Billy_Bishop
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Well, I know that wasn't the case on his VC raid as he came back without any ammo, or his gun. And to be honest, I've never heard that claimed for him. The only mechanic in the RFC who might have been in a position to say anything about it was Sgt. Bourne, and he, to my knowledge never said anything bad about Bishop. In fact he was quite proud to have been Bishop's mechanic in 60 Squadron.

To my knowledge, and from everything I've ever read, Bishop was not afraid to use ammo as opposed to some others.

I have read that Fonck used to try to get kills with as few rounds as possible, likely aiming at hitting the pilot.

VBR,

Al Lowe
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Old 2 January 1999, 10:00 AM   #14
Leo Sweeney
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Thanks for setting the record straight.
 
Old 2 January 1999, 10:51 AM   #15
Billy_Bishop
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No Problem Leo, but if you should come across that article again, I'd appreciate it if you could tell me where it was from, who wrote it, and the name of the mechanic, if known. For that matter, which squadron too. Bishop served in two fighter squadrons, 60 and 85. The latter of which he formed and commanded during it's early days on the front.

VBR,

Al Lowe
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Old 2 January 1999, 11:44 AM   #16
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Al,
I have just read a passage in "The Air V.c.'s", by Cooksley and in it he writes of an Australian Mechanic when told Bishop had jettisoned his Lewis gun "who was puzzled how this could have been unshipped in flight."

Cooksley then goes on to say that on another flight some claim that Keith "Grid" Caldwell followed Bishop in the belief that he would see some action, but was disappointed, since the later seemed not at all the aggressive flyer he was thought to be, but appeared to be almost avoiding action.

Sorry if these questions have been raised before, but I have had my head in a few books over the last few weeks learning more about the man, the question is, have you heard of these reports, and do you know who the Aussie mechanic is, because if you do I will try to track down his family and see if there is any substance to the claim.

Andrew
 
Old 2 January 1999, 09:39 PM   #17
Billy_Bishop
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Unfortunately, I have very little information on ground personal of 60 Squadron. There are only two of any significance, one is Sgt. Bourne, Bishop's mechanic. The other is Sgt-Maj. A.A. Nicod, the chief mechanic for the Squadron. And he for the most part contra-dicts Cowan's claim that Bishop's plane was barely damaged from his June 2, 1917 raid.

Cowan goes on info supplied by Willie Fry who, for whatever reason ONLY remembers a small grouping of bullet holes in the tail. But that wasn't all. There was also another group of bullet holes inches behind the cockpit. And THIS is confirmed in Grid Caldwell's report of June 30, 1917 when he mentions damage to Bishop's plane totaling 17 bullet holes AND a lower plane (doesn't say which one) shot away in two bays. A.A. Nicod, in his report shows some of this as AA damage from crossing the trenches.

As to the mechanic's question of how the weapon could be undone while in flight. That has been explained to me by the former associate director of the Canadian National Aviation Museum, Robert Bradford. There is a cable you pull that unlockes the muzzle near the front of the top wing, then you pull on the bowden cable (this carries the signal to fire the gun)to pull the gun back and down. Once in the down position you can change the magazine, if empty, or by turning a thumbscrew you can release it from the Foster mount. The Bowden cable also unscrews from the bottom of the pistol grip, you can then toss the whole gun over the side.

Only thing I can say about the Aussie mechanic, is he must not have installed many Lewis guns on Nieuport fighters.

As to the comment on Caldwell, I find that interesting as he witnessed at least one of Bishops claims in July of 1917. AND considering Bishop's reported excellent eyesight, I don't see how Caldwell could have followed Bishop without him knowing it.

But if I find out anything concerning any of the other ground crew, I'll let you know.

VBR,

Al Lowe
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Old 5 January 1999, 11:58 AM   #18
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Well, well, well.

I see this little controversy simply will not go away.

Those that were here a year ago, may recall the lengthy disagreement Al and I had on this subject. We disagreed long and hard on it and finally just agreed to disagree since neither of us seemed able to dissuade the other.

My only advice to those on either side of the issue is not to believe any/everything that you read. A lot of disinformation was printed after the fact and gained legitamacy simply by having appeared in print.

As for myself, I tend to disbelieve his claims mostlty on the basis of reading accounts written by a number of those who were stationed with him and flew with him. Most stated that Bishop was a" likable bird" in the mess but they simply didn't see those kills.

V/R,

David Johnson
 
Old 5 January 1999, 06:01 PM   #19
Billy_Bishop
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"As for myself, I tend to disbelieve his claims mostlty on the basis of reading accounts written by a number of those who were stationed with him and flew with him. Most stated that Bishop was a" likable bird" in the mess but they simply didn't see those kills."

The only problem I have with David's statement above is this. As far as I know, only about 4-5 men in Bishop's 60 Squadron ever wrote anything that was published. Grid Caldwell, and Willie Fry were two of those. Another was Maj. Scott. And yet another was Sgt. Maj. A.A. Nicod, the chief mechanic for 60 Squadron, and last but not least was Maj. W.E. Molesworth, MC.

For the first two, though they both wrote and published books before Bishop's death, in neither case did they come out publicly and say anything bad about him. It was only AFTER he was gone from this world that they started to actually be more vocal in any doubts they may have harboured against the man.

Some will likely discount Sgt. Maj. Nicod as he was a mechanic and therefore wouldn't have had a chance to observe any victory claims that Bishop might claim. But he could and did attest to the battle damage that Bishop's plane came back with on various trips, including his early morning raid of June 2, 1917.

And still others will claim that Maj. Scott was biased in Bishop's favor, confirming all of his claims without question. However, I have to ask the question, what about 4 KNOWN Unconfirmed claims that Bishop claimed while Scott was in command? Doesn't seem that Scott did confirm them all out of hand now does it?

But then there's Maj. Molesworth, who has nothing BAD to say at all about Bishop. And he flew with the man.

So tell me, who besides Fry and Caldwell could possibly say anything bad about Bishop? As for their not seeing his claims, well, they weren't along with him when it happened, were they. And they didn't have the roving commision, nor were they told, as he was to go and seek out the enemy whenever and where ever he could find them. Though in fairness to Fry, he did witness 3 of Bishop's claims. I guess he can't say he didn't see Bishop shoot down anything, as he witnessed at least 3 different claims, along with some others of Bishop's flight.

Some have tried to make it look like Bishop's "lone-wolf" flights were his idea alone. In fact, he was practically ordered to do so, the same as Ball before him. The big difference between Ball and Bishop was that Ball PREFERRED to fly alone, and didn't like flying as part of a flight. Bishop didn't seem to mind in either event, and handled both team and solo flights equally well.

Or at least he didn't complain about it.

Unfortunately, this argument is likely to run on for quite some time, unless some new evidence turns up some where. But at this late date, I think that the "Billy Bishop Controversy" is doomed to an eternal life.

VBR,

Al Lowe
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