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19-Year-Old Airman's Exploits
19-Year-Old Airman's Exploits
The Weekly Dispatch - Sunday, September 30, 1917
Published by Scott
14 July 2007
19-Year-Old Airman's Exploits


Respite After Bringing Down 47 Hun Machines.


Major W. A. Bishop, V.C., D.S.O. (and bar), M.C., Canada's famous 19-year-old airman, has returned to his native land. On his arrival he was asked to narrate some o his more extraordinary experiences. "I haven't had any," he said!
Bishop and the late Captain Ball stand unchallenged as the two mos marvellous fighting pilots the British Air Service has produced. Few people will be disposed to question the wisdom of giving Major Bishop a respite from his marvellous exploits against the Hun. During his last few weeks in France he had been a marked man, and only his wonderful skill and fighting qualities brought him safely through.
A slight, fair-haired youth, with a pleasant face, Bishop came to England with the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He transferred into the Royal Flying Corps shortly afterwards, and early in 1917 was made a flight-commander. Ever since then his progress has been meteoric.
Up to date he has 47 Hun machines to his credit. His favourite pastime was to do a hawk-like sweep from the clouds, spray a column of German troops marching along a road with his machine gun, and dash off again before the panic-stricken Hun had realised what was happening. He gained the V.C. for an astounding feat which caused the Germans to put a price on his head.
This is the story in his own words:
"Went over one morning by myself to find Hun aerodrome. Nothing doing there; nobody at home. Flew off to find another; plenty of shrapnel buzzing round. Discovered fine, big 'drome; seven Hun machines lined up waiting to move off. Swooped down, gave them dose from Lewis gun. One Hun startd his plane; gave him broadside, and saw him crash. Another Hun made a move; let him have ten rounds, and watched him crash into big tree. Two more rose, I with them. Gave one remainder of tray of cartridges; he disappeared. Put fresh tray on, fired it all at fourth Hun; saw him crash; flew home."
These were but a few of the wonderful "stunts" which made the 19-year-old airman famous along the whole of the Western front. With its proverbial modesty the Royal Flying Corps was loath to publish the deeds of any particular airman, but with the Germans continually boasting of their crack fighting pilots it was felt imperative that we too should publish the deeds of our champion pilots.

Earlier in the year Bishop accomplished some astounding things single-handed. Once he encountered three Albatross scouts. They separated and tried to surround him. It seemed that his time had come, for the bullets were swishing and whining through his machine, past his ears, and all around. Then his marvellous luck saved him. One of the Huns came right across his line of fire; Bishop let the trigger of his Lewis gun go and the Hun crashed to earth, while the victorious Canadian flew homewards.
Another exploit which tickled the flying men immensely was his finding among the clouds his equally juvenile C.O. having a fearful scrap with five Huns in brand-new machines. Bishop dashed out of the clouds, his Lewis gun clattering away for all it was worth. The first Hun crashed before he knew what had happened, a stream of bullets catching both pilot and observer from the rear. The next machine got a broadside and went spinning giddily to earth. The other three turned tail and ran, so Bishop and his youthful commander flew home, "stunting" all the way.
A curious sequence of fatalities appears to overtake all the crack fighting pilots when their "bag" reaches the neighbourhood of fifty. Captain Guynemer, te most famous of the Frenchmen, is dead with 53 Huns to his credit. Captain Ball was killed with 47, and Boelcke, Immelmnn, Baron von Richthofen, and Voss, the best pilots the Germans have possessed, all went under when they accounted for 50 machines. The whole nation will rejoice that Major Bishop has been given te opportunity to rest on his laurels for a time.
The Weekly Dispatch understands that Major Bishop will remain in Canada for some time, and may probably be put in charge of a school for training fighting pilots in America.

The Weekly Dispatch - Sunday, September 30, 1917

By Gregvan on 14 July 2007, 07:20 AM
Thanks, Scott!

Scott, I'm really enjoying these contemporary news reports you've been filing! Keep 'em coming. A great look at the way these heroes were viewed and reported on in their own time.

This one is another example of journalistic excellence and accuracy in reporting. Having been born on 8 February 1894, Billy Bishop was 23 on 30 September 1917.

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william bishop, billy bishop

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