Billy Bishop, VC, CB, DSO & bar, MC, DFC  Canadian Hero.

Air Marshal William Avery Bishop
VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED,
Legion of Honor Chevalier, Croix de Guerre with palm
Seventy-Two (72) Air-to-air Victories
RFC/RAF/RCAF
(1894-1956)

"For he had that courage which Napoleon once said was the rarest --
the courage of the early morning."*

The Incomparable Billy Bishop new2.gif - 111 Bytes
A Review in the Globe and Mail
A Response to a Contrary Opinion
A Contrary Opinion on Bishop
The Controversy over Billy Bishop
Covering a hero's tail
A New Book Bashing Bishop.
A corrected bio
Bishop Video by the War Amps
Another Billy Bishop page
Bishop's VC, Witnessed??
Victory list No. 1
Victory List No. 2
Combat Report 2-6-17
Opinion on the movie
Confidential Report 30-6-17
Confidential Report 2-6-17
Canadian Senate Summary
My rebuttal to an article
A conversation
Records, etc., etc.
The Controversy Continues
Paul Cowan's "Witnesses"
From a Friend
More Testimony
Another Opinion
Expert Testimony
Debunking Heroes
Cowan's research
What Bishop actually did
Front Page Story
Yet Another Opinion
Beyond Reproach
A slightly Different Opinion
WHAT Controversy???
Reply to David
How it must have looked
A reply to an anti-Bishop post
Billy Bishop on Wikipedia
Bishop on The Aerodrome
Billy Bishop Heritage Museum
Rich Thistle on Bishop
On the morning of 2 June, 1917, Capt. William Avery "Billy" Bishop took off from Filescamp aerodrome at 3:57AM and flew into what was until 1982, accepted history. Since the production by the NFB of "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss," Air Marshal Bishop's entire WWI combat record has been thrown into controversy.

What I have attempted to show in these pages, is that his record is not as controversial as some would have us believe. But rather than take me at my word, read what I have discovered, and recorded here. Then do your own research and see if you agree or disagree with me.

My conclusion, sure Billy Bishop overclaimed on some of his victories. Very few air combat pilots haven't . Ask any air historian and they'll tell you that most, if not all combat pilots are prone to overclaiming. In the heat of battle anything can and does happen. But I don't believe that Billy Bishop purposely lied about his claims as some would have us believe.

I think he truly deserved every medal and honour that he was awarded. If for no other reason than just climbing into those aeroplanes made of cloth, wood and wire.

This webpage, and the pages attached will attempt, in a small way, to right a wrong committed on the memory and reputation of William A. "Billy" Bishop, by the movie "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss". Produced by a Mr. Paul Cowan and the National Film Board of Canada. This movie was a pure travesty that was visited on the combat record and the Honour of Billy Bishop, as well as the citizens of Canada.

Unfortunately this has gone so far that some reputable historians are accepting Mr. Cowan's version of history, and are following the same line of thinking as he. That Billy Bishop was a liar and a fraud.

This could not be further from the truth, and I will show on these pages that it is NOT Billy Bishop who was the liar, and fraud, but someone else, who shall remain nameless at this point. In fact, some people may call him "thief" for taking taxpayers' money under false pretense. I won't, but some people might.

By presenting evidence, in the form of statements and testimony by individuals who knew Billy Bishop, I hope to clear this question up once and for all. I will also be presenting testimony used at the Canadian Senate Sub-Committee hearing on the movie, "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss". As well as comments from professional and amateur historians and authors. For the most part, none of this is new. What is new is that it will be put on public display for EVERYONE on the internet to see without having to search all over the World Wide Web.

 

But first, how I came to be involved in this.

I first read about Billy Bishop as I was growing up in Central Indiana. I gained an appreciation for history around the age of 11 or 12. I was especially interested in military history. And early on I became fascinated with military airplanes. Actually, I was fascinated with anything military in nature, but airplanes were my favourite!

When I first read Billy Bishop's book, "Winged Warfare", I was hooked. He became my favorite World War One fighter Ace. Some might ask, "Why not an American Ace?", such as Eddie Rickenbacker, Frank Luke, or Raoul Lufberry?? To be honest, I'm not sure. I guess that even from the grave, Billy Bishop's charm got to me. I do know from that point on, I started gathering all the books I could find on WWI aviation, and I especially went after anything that mentioned Billy Bishop.

I built model airplanes, both from WWI and WWII. But I always had a Nieuport 17 made up to look like Billy Bishop's Nieuport. Right down to the number on the tail, and the blue painted cowl.

Unfortunately, Billy Bishop died the same year I was born, so I never got a chance to meet him. And he was in one movie, "Captains of the Clouds" with James Cagney, so at least I had a chance to see and hear him. Even if it was scripted. There were never any movies specifically about him until 1982.

That year Mr. Paul Cowan, with $514,007.00 of Canadian Taxpayer's money, did one of the foulest deeds possible without committing some form of violence. With the release of "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss", he did his utmost to bring down the memory, and trash the reputation of one of Canada's greatest heroes. If not for the members of the Canadian Senate (who at urging from an outraged public, The National Council of Veterans' Associations, and The War Amputations of Canada, held an investigation into this movie), it would have continued to be called a documentary. Surely the most inapplicable type-name it could be given.

A note about bias.

It is my opinion that we all have bias on one thing or another. We can't avoid it. It's a part of human nature. The difference between my bias on Billy Bishop and Mr. Cowan's bias, is that his is based on an apparent dislike of anything military in nature. My bias is based on history, and the the decision of King George V of England. Who's right? Well, I think I am. Mr. Cowan thinks he is. As to who turns out to be REALLY correct in the end, only time will tell. But I think I'm in pretty good company, myself.

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*John Bassett, publisher of the Montreal Gazette.

I would like to thank Ms. Ann Marie Johnston from the office of the Honourable Senator Gerry St.-Germain, P.C., of the Canadian Senate, without who's assistance this web page would have been greatly delayed, if not impossible to publish.

I would also like to thank Mr. Steven E. Dieter, Former Historian Billy Bishop Heritage and Museum Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, for indirectly giving me the inspiration to do these web pages, as well as providing me with a LOT of information. Yes Steven, YOU actually got the ball started down the stairs. ;-)

And last, but not least, I would like to thank Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton, OC, O.Ont., DCL, LLD, the CEO of The War Amputations of Canada, and author of the digest "Hanging a Legend-The NFB's shameful attempt to Discredit Billy Bishop", for answering some of my questions, and providing a wealth of information regarding Mr. Cowan's attempt to smear the reputation of Billy Bishop.

More recently, I would ALSO like to thank Lt. Col. David L. Bashow, Assistant Professor of History at RMC, and the author of "Knights of the Air: Canadian Fighter Pilots in the First World War" Published by McArther and Company 2000.

Some of the information contained in the attached documents comes from the Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, as reported on the movie "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss", by the Canadian Senate.
Some of the information comes from "Hanging A Legend", a digest by H. Clifford Chadderton, published by the War Amputations of Canada.
Another source is the book, "Billy Bishop: Canadian Hero" By Dan McCaffery, published by James Lorimer and Company.
And of late, some information is coming from "Knights of the Air: Canadian Fighter Pilots in the First World War" by Lt. Col. David L. Bashow, Published by McArther and Company.

And last, but certainly not least, a decent amount of the information gathered and published in this web site comes from conversations I've had with Steven Dieter, Cliff Chadderton, and Dave Bashow. These conversations either took place face to face, on the phone, through email or a combination of the aforementioned methods. As well as conversations that have taken place on the forum on The Aerodrome web site.

Created August 20, 1998
Last updated: April 13, 2012. 
©1998 by Albert Lowe, All rights reserved.
The opinions expressed on this web page are mine alone. By no means should the use of any reference be construed as to suggest that anyone else mentioned on this site shares those opinions, unless stated explicitly so.

Contact me at jake@billybishop.net and tell me what you think of this site.