[Illustrated with 17 additional photos of the author and the machines he flew and fought against]
As a young Billy Bishop looking up into the sky above his Canadian trench in July 1915, a passing Royal Flying Corps aircraft was returning home from patrol. He was envious and said to whoever was listening “...it’s clean up there! I’ll bet you don’t get any mud or horse **** on you up there. If you die, at least it would be a clean death.". Struck by his sudden epiphany he requested a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps, it was a momentous decision, for within the next three years Bishop would claim 72 victories over his German opponents, making him the highest scoring British Empire air ace of the First World War.
A National Hero in his native Canada, he was awarded a V.C. for conspicuous services – the citation read:
“For most conspicuous bravery, determination, and skill. Captain Bishop,...[On his own] flew first of all to an enemy aerodrome; finding no machines about, he flew on to another aerodrome...which was at least 12 miles the other side of the line. Seven machines....were on the ground. He attacked these from about fifty feet...One of the machines got off the ground, but at a height of 60 feet, Captain Bishop fired 15 rounds into it at very close range, and it crashed to the ground. A second machine got off the ground, into which he fired 30 rounds at 150 yards range, and it fell into a tree. Two more machines then rose from the aerodrome. One of these he engaged at a height of 1,000 feet, emptying the rest of his drum of ammunition. This machine crashed 300 yards from the aerodrome, after which Captain Bishop emptied a whole drum into the fourth hostile machine, and then flew back to his station. Four hostile scouts were about 1,250 feet above him for about a mile of his return journey, but they would not attack. His machine was very badly shot about by machine gun fire from the ground.”
A fine memoir from an Air Ace legend.