Talk:Billy Bishop

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

"Officially Credited"[edit]

I am somewhat confused by the term "officially credited with 72 victories" as the British flying services did not keep an official "score" by pilot and did not record "victories", but machines destroyed, driven down out of control, and driven down (and also captured), as the principal authors of this page no doubt know. I realize that tallies of "victories" sometimes occurred in citations for decorations, but there was no "official" list of "scores" in the RFC/RNAS/RAF. There was an attempt to produce one for top scoring aces in 1919 (file is the Air Ministry records) but the effort was abandoned as futile, given the inability at the time to confirm many ddoc's on the German side of the lines. 99.249.157.114 (talk) 16:04, 6 December 2015 (UTC)

Battle with Richthofen[edit]

I recently made an edit that Bishop had not in fact fought the Red Baron on April 30, 1917. David Bashow and Dan McCaffery (both prominent Bishop historians) agree that while Bishop thought he had fought von Richthofen on that day, evidence reveals that Richthofen was actually on leave at the time. If anyone can find any strong evidence otherwise (post-2000), I would love to know where it's from. Ctimbury 23:15, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Victoria Cross[edit]

Did Billy Bishop deserve the Victoria Cross? No record of his feat was found in the German archives. His reputation for stretching the truth was well known.

The German archives don't describe all sorts of historically notable events, both because their records keeping was a disaster (something Hitler went out of his way to fix for the next war) and apparently due to embarassment over losses. I believe it was Moltke's circus that had just moved into the airbase in question, and I doubt he was particularily happy about this event so soon after arriving. Let's also not forget that Bishop's attack was by no means unique, pilots on all sides of the conflict pulled similar stunts throughout the war -- heck, it even forms a major scene in Dawn Patrol.
Simply put there is nothing unique about his claims in any way. Nor is the damage to his aircraft otherwise explainable. What is explainable is a 50-years-later retelling by pollitically correct writers who clearly didn't care about their facts while re-writing history. Yet, due largely to the fact that this is the most recent telling, this is the version people know.

Maury 12:46, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

While Bishop's feat was not unique, he had the distinction of being the first one to do it. I believe this is why his CO thought he deserved the VC. Al Lowe 22:46, 27 January 2006 (UTC)


How many siblings?[edit]

The Billy Bishop museum says that he was the middle child of three, while this page says that he was the third of four. Can anyone verify this?

I remember that this was changed in a very recent edit, and I didn't know enough to change it back. If his museum says he was the middle child of three, I would go by that rather than the recent edit. FranksValli 23:18, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

William Avery Bishop was the third of four children. He had two older brothers, Reginald Worth born in 1884 and Hiram Kilbourn born in 1886. Hiram died in 1893. William Avery was born in 1894 and his sister, Margaret Louise was born in 1895. SEDieter

So there were four children but one of them died before WAB was born. Should this be mentioned in the article or not? I don't know how these things are normally phrased. Cjrother 18:40, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Bishop's Academic history[edit]

WHY does someone insist on perpuating the myth that Bishop was almost kicked out of RMC during his last year? This is false history, corrected in Knights of the Air, by Lieut-Col. David Bashow. His problems at RMC were during his first year, and in fact, his last year, he received a promotion. I sincerely hope that the "vandal" will check this out before trying again. Al Lowe 22:52, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

The libretto for John Grey's Billy Bishop Goes to War (1981) mentions an incident that occurred during Bishop’s third year at R.M.C. for which he "got into an awful lot of trouble." Following twenty-eight days restricted leave for a drunken boating excursion to Cedar Island, Bishop was then caught cheating on his final exams after he "handed in the crib notes with the exam paper!" While awaiting his punishment (which, according to Grey, was to be "Expulsion! With full honours!"), the war in Europe broke out. Bishop enlisted while awaiting expulsion and was made an officer in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. While this might explain one possible source of the myth, I have no clue as to what source material Grey and Peterson were working with. A somewhat revised version of BBGTW has begun touring recently but I have no clue as to what the specific content is.Boy mechanic (talk) 14:28, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Raymond Collishaw[edit]

Is it worth mentioning that Collishaw may have in fact, won more victories than Bishop (or for that matter, any other WWI aces)? According to the Collishaw article, some contemporary historians have placed his total number of victories (unverified) at 81, surpassing even the Red Baron. Though unproven, I think it ought to be given some credit here. --24.150.16.197 01:19, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

I'd think that any discussion of unconfirmed victories for any pilot should be mentioned on HIS wikipedia page, not that of someone else. And as Hauptman Heidemann said in the movie, The Blue Max, "Unconfirmed by Army means UNCONFIRMED." Also, just an FYI, based on some sources I've come across, Bishop has at least 5, and may have as many as 20+ unconfirmed. This places his "unofficial" record at a minimum of 77, and at a max of 92. But again, these are unconfirmed claims. It's like playing handgrenades or horseshoes, close doesn't count. Neither do unconfirmed claims. Al Lowe 14:45, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
The Red Baron had unconfirmed kills too, so I agree with Albert. Confirmed kills are kills. Besides which, confirmed kills aren't really a precise indicator of a person's bravery or necessarily his skill as a pilot or marksman. Richtofen was, I though, only a "fair" pilot and not necessarily all that great a marksman, if one looks at number of rounds per kill. Way too easy to slip into revisionist history with stuff about kills or bullets per victim. I suggest we stick to the established facts as were known at the time. If we need to mention revisionism at all, let's do it in passing while keeping the emphasis on what can be solidly "proven."Michael Dorosh 15:02, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

The confirmation (or otherwise) of aerial 'kills' in WW1 desreves an Wiki entry all of its own; Can I stress caution when trying to compare RFC/RNAS pilot's kill claims with German or French pilots? Each Air Force had its own unique way of processing claims by pilots, and what (for example) the RFC allowed would not have been sanctioned in the German Air Service. I think its fair to say German ace claims were the most accurate (most of the crashed aircraft were on their side of the lines) with the French next, and the RFC/RNAS ( with their unique 'Out of Control' classifications)some way behind. Thanks Harryurz 10:58, 14 July 2007 (UTC)


List of World War I flying aces has just such a text section.

Incidentally, the individual flying services' methods of confirmation could change from time to time.

Georgejdorner (talk) 16:57, 6 August 2009 (UTC)



Just so everyone knows, René Fonck allied ace of aces (still today) had 75 official kills and 127 claimed. 127 Because French victories to be confirmed needed physical proof and at least 3 witnesses. Nearly all French kill beyond ennemy lines were never counted.

So when i read that this guy is awarded 3, 4, 5 kills in a row, just by asking, without any proof, this makes me laugh hard. British air victories are the most untrustworthy of the war. German and French kills need to be doubled in compareason. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.86.32.36 (talk) 12:41, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Early War Experiences[edit]

I removed the word "fortunately" from the sentence "During one flight, he badly injured his knee, his only injury of the war, and spent the summer recuperating in Britain, fortunately missing the Battle of the Somme." Unless someone wants to cite a source showing that he himself considered this to be a "fortunate" circumstance, it tends to imput a view of the incident to Bishop that he might not have had.Hi There 15:13, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Exactly,well done. Don't forget to sign your comments with four tildes in future (~~~~)Michael Dorosh 23:12, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Wars and Horses[edit]

Re my edits today; in Canada, all official histories use the term "First World War" which I think is more appropriate for article concerned primarily with Canadian military history as this is. I also corrected the title of the Mississauga Horse (the word "Regiment" does not form part of the title) and added a description of the regiment as being a cavalry regiment. Likewise the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles - my understanding is that the CMR units were nominally mounted, but actually served as dismounted infantry. Hence, the claim that Bishop found a "lack of action in the cavalry" reads incorrectly. I've deleted the reference to cavalry, and described the 7th CMR as "horse-mounted infantry" which may be incorrect - can anyone confirm if they were mounted at the time Bishop served in France with them? I also can't seem to find a reference to the 7th actually being employed in combat - there were four battalions of CMR, all employed as infantry, in the 3rd Canadian Division, but not the 7th.Michael Dorosh 15:08, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Boyhood home[edit]

I think that there should be some mention of the recent findings of paranormal activity at his boy hood home. This is a significant thing. Here is a link to the local newspaper that talks about it. If someone would like to add it that is great, I am not sure how to word it as yet, but would be willing to come up with a few diffrent ways to incorperate all the info.--navy_blue84 Navy Blue 23:56, 1 August 2008 (UTC)


Timeline issue[edit]

If I read the article correctly, he had his first victory on 25 Mar 1917 and his second on 21 Mar 1917. Somethin' ain't right (maybe it's me). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.189.206.174 (talk) 14:14, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Fixed thankyou, it was a typo, a 2 instead of a 3. Regards, Woody (talk) 15:39, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Correction.[edit]

I removed the below statement as both untrue upon its face, and as a distorted misquote of one of the sources cited:

"It was however common practice at this time among the RFC and RNAS squadrons to submit kills claimed without requiring confirmation or verification from other witnesses."

This statement basically states that a British/Commonwealth pilot was credited with whatever victories he claimed. There was in fact a system of verifying victories, as can be seen at Aerial victory standards of World War I.

Additionally, I have a copy of Shores' Above the Trenches. It states, "It should be mentioned however that most of his victories were credited without any confirmation by other pilots or ground observers." In other words, Bishop was not held to the usual confirmation procedure for most of his victories.

Georgejdorner (talk) 13:37, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

British authorities had a huge dilemma after the 1915 "Fokker Scourge" period during which whole front line squadrons were decimated. In order to restore confidence, leeway in claims were allowed where pilots very commonly could claim "aircraft forced down" without actually seeing the aircraft destroyed. One of the first British aces, Lanoe George Hawker, may have shot down over 50 aircraft, but in those early days, the British kept no records of aircraft destroyed and once they did begin, they gave credit somewhat indiscriminately.
The victory scores by individual pilots in the First World War were extremely controversial; the pilots themselves usually felt that their official credits under-stated their actual kills. The leading French ace, Rene Fonck, credited with 75 kills, personally claimed 126. In other cases, official recognition was withheld from NCOs; only commissioned officers were so credited. Frederick Libby, an American who flew with the British, claimed 10 "kills" as an NCO observer/gunner, but these were not officially added to the 14 he scored as an officer and pilot. Despite claims and counter-claims, the actual record will never be resolved, especially given the amount of time that has passed.
The case of Mick Mannock is interesting as his biographer selected a number of aerial victories that put him ahead of a rival! Later research suggested that his actual total was closer to 61. Inevitably, the credits for aerial victories noted are the "official" numbers, as reported in various secondary sources. Some authorities note the term "official" would be better described as "traditional" or "accepted." Whether Manfred von Richthofen shot down precisely 80 aircraft, Guynemer 53 (or 54?), Billy Bishop 73, Mick Mannock 61, and Frank Luke 21 (or 19?), is now the stuff of historical reassessment. Bishop is another special case as recently, RCAF historian Brereton Greenhous in his The Making of Billy Bishop (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2002) has challenged many of the official victories and set off a new round of a long-ranging debate that has existed since the First World War. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 14:15, 8 October 2011 (UTC).

Indeed. I agree with, and am aware of, the truth of your allegations. I know most of the facts you are reciting to me. However, they are immaterial in this case.

What I am objecting to doesn't have to do with any of that. I am objecting to falsification and distortion of information in an encyclopedia. By 1918, when Bishop won most of his victories, there was an accepted method of confirming victories, and the editor in question denies it. He misquotes a source to do so. That is unacceptable.

Georgejdorner (talk) 17:11, 8 October 2011 (UTC)


────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Throughout the First World War, there may have been official policies, but victory claims based on pilot reports proliferated to the extent that individual records are suspect for nearly every air arm, save the German|Central Powers which had stringent standards. Von Richtofen was known to have brought back pieces of downed aircraft, partly as sovenirs but also to establish a claim when the requisite two observers were not present. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 18:53, 8 October 2011 (UTC)


And just what does this have to do with falsification of information about Billy Bishop?

Georgejdorner (talk) 16:50, 13 October 2011 (UTC)


Bzuk,

Please refrain from inserting baseless and undocumented assertions in the text. It introduces falsity to the encyclopedia. Certainly, you are entitled to your opinions about the British system of confirming aerial victories, but you are not entitled to rewrite history. Facts are facts; opinions are opinions.

Also, please read Aerial victory standards of World War I. You will find documented explanation of the history of the confirmation standards for British and Commonwealth World War I pilots there.

Georgejdorner (talk) 18:32, 14 October 2011 (UTC)


This is the statement: "It seemed to be common practice at this time to allow Bishop to claim victories without requiring confirmation or verification from other witnesses" and this is the reference used: ""It should be mentioned however that most of his victories were credited without any confirmation by other pilots or ground observers." (Shores et al. 1991, p. 76.) Where do you see the disconnect? The statement says Bishop was claiming victories on his "lone wolf" exploits, something that every biographer has noted. See: McCaffery 2002, pp. 220–224, where a listing of all the victories shows 45 being on solo flights and not witnessed. Bishop also made 75 other solo missions where no claims were made. A further six victories are disputed and not typically included in the totals while many of the credited solo "kills" may have been accepted because his log book shows exact locations and these were in contested "no man's land" or in enemy territory; a number of the victories were later confirmed by other observers including AA crews and British or other forces coming upon wreckage. Greenhous 2002 has numerous mentions of the lack of conformation on solo flights which accounted for 120 individual actions. In 1918, Bishop claimed 25 victories and all were un-witnessed but for one, witnessed by American Elliott White Springs. Canadian historian Wayne Ralph who wrote a groundbreaking work on Bishop's friend, Major W. "Billy" Barker, contrasting the 45 disputed victories with Barker's pristine record of 50 victories, the last four being observed by an estimated 100,000 troops on the front lines. See Ralph 2007, p. xxiii, and many other instances. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 23:17, 14 October 2011 (UTC).

Hello, Bzuk,

Your article edit of 0633 hours 8 October 2011 restored the following previously deleted false statement:

"It was however common practice at this time among the RFC and RNAS squadrons to submit kills claimed without requiring confirmation or verification from other witnesses."

I then deleted this statement for the second time and at 1118 hours 14 October 2011 substituted this true sentence in its place:

"It seemed to be common practice at this time to allow Bishop to claim victories without requiring confirmation or verification from other witnesses".

And indeed, the source for both statements is this sentence from page 76 of Above the Trenches:

"It should be mentioned however that most of his (that is, Bishop's) victories were credited without any confirmation by other pilots or ground observers."

As you have pointed out above, the present version does not have a disconnect from its source, such as the original statement did. Now that we have a true explanation in place, let's move on to insure accuracy wherever else we may edit in Wikipedia. I might add, that if you should ever catch me in an inaccuracy, I either will not object to a change based on a reliably sourced correction, or I will correct it myself.

Its all for the good of Wikipedia. Cheers.

Georgejdorner (talk) 04:05, 18 October 2011 (UTC)


Hello, all,

While reading up on other aces for WP, I recall coming across an intimation that may be of interest for this article.

The supposition I read was that the British high command granted some victories with slight evidence to Billy Bishop as a means of keeping the Canadians happily within the RAF instead of founding a Canadian air force. Support for this theory can be seen in the grossly disproportionate number of Canadian aces in the RAF's victory rolls; for a striking example, scroll down http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_I_aces_credited_with_20_or_more_victories. However, I am unable to recall where I read this supposition.

I record this accusation here as a theory, to be verified, denied, or explicated, in hopes of improving the Billy Bishop article. I hold no brief for any side of this debate. Instead, I list it here in hopes that some other editor is familiar with the information source in question.

Georgejdorner (talk) 18:21, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

"Disproportionate".
Coincidentally, I had been looking at that list before finding your note here, and I had made the same observation.
But looking at the list a 2nd time, I notice another odd thing: Canadian pilots never die; British pilots always do. (Why?)
Regardless, if British pilots had had the same survival rate as Canadians, then the table would look very different, with the Canadians being less conspicuously intermingled with Britons.
I have never encountered a source claiming preferential treatment for Canadians to forestall the formation of an RCAF.
99.237.226.18 (talk) 18:55, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Why does it say he was in The Killer That Stalked New York?[edit]

So if you search up Billy Bishop in your browser, it says he starred in the movie "The Killer That Stalked New York" right? No. That's William Bishop. (Yes Billy Bishops real first name is actually William), but they are two completely different people and someone needs to make it so it doesn't say he was in a movie he wasn't in. Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.239.133.138 (talk) 20:07, 17 February 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Billy Bishop. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 15:32, 2 November 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Billy Bishop. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 12:06, 20 July 2017 (UTC)