William Avery Bishop is known as being one of the top flying aces of the First World War with a total of 72 air victories to his credit. Born in Owen Sound in 1894, he enrolled in the Royal Military College (RMC) at Kingston, at the age of seventeen. Bishop jumped at the chance to enlist in the First World War leaving his studies while still in his third year at RMC. After a short time with the cavalry, he joined the Royal Flying Corps where he earned several commendations including the Military Cross (M.C.), the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.), the Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.)and the Victoria Cross (V.C.) for his, "conspicuous gallantry… bravery, determination and skill" in aerial warfare. After the War, Bishop entered into business with fellow Canadian ace, W.G. Barker and was later an honourary Air Marshall in the Second World War.
Library and Archives Canada, PA-122515
William "Billy" Bishop in a Nieuport Aircraft, England, 1917
The Nieuport aircraft with its 110 horse-power engine and Lewis Gun was a formidable aerial fighting machine. In this staged photograph, Bishop is displaying his ability with the twenty-nine pound Lewis Gun which fired a .303 calibre projectile at a muzzle velocity of over 2,800 feet per second.
Library and Archives Canada. PA-001651
Capt. Bishop, V.C. (Canadian) R.F.C. Who Has Up To This Date Brought Down 17 Boche Planes, August 1917
When this photograph was taken, Billy Bishop, aged 21, had downed 17 German aircraft. By the end of the War, he was reported to have had 72 “kills.” His youth, charm and prowess as an aerial warrior made him an instant hero with the Canadian public.
Library and Archives Canada, RG 24, series C-8, vol. 23196, file "Nominal Roll of Canadian Airmen Serving in RFC and RAF -- A to B," p. 15
Summary of William Bishop’s Service in the Royal Flying Corps
This brief summary of Billy Bishop’s military career cites the five imperial commendations and two French awards received while in service with the Royal Flying Corps. For Bishop’s imperial honours (the Military Cross (M.C.), Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.), Victoria Cross (V.C.), Bar to the D.S.O., and Distinguished Flight Cross (D.F.C.)) the dates and reasons for awarding are annotated in the margins. Other pages from this nominal role also include the service summaries of other Canadian pilots including such notable heros as William Barker and Raymond Collishaw.