Bishop of the Eagle Eye (1930)
BY A. ROY BROWN
THE greatest living,
fighting airman is Billy Bishop Lieutenant
Colonel William Avery Bishop, V.C., the Canadian ace
with his record of having bagged, officially,
seventy-two German planes.
I am not sure that I would not be
justified in dubbing him ace of aces, the greatest
war flyer of them all. After studying the birds of
prey, he chose the methods of the hawk. He was a
human hawk, cool, calculating, swift.
He was lone like the hawk, a supreme
solo fighter. He cruised alone. He killed alone. He
led patrols, of course, but even then managed to
detach himself. Most of the time he went up by
himself and ranged free lance, his keen eyes seeking
Besides these methods, he possessed
that subtle thing which makes champions in any game
of combat-intuitive skill, which is a natural gift,
flowering with experience.
A friend of mine, observing one day
in a two-seater near Lens, recognized Bishop's
flight 3,000 feet above. At the same time, slightly
south, he noticed a formation of Germans.
"Now I'll see something!" he thought
and his glance ranged the sky. He watched but
nothing happened. Bishop just kept cruising around.
He knew that if he could see the
enemy it was a sure bet that Bishop's famed eyes had
long since picked them out.
Still nothing happened. He kept
watching, wondering, for a fall fifteen minutes.
Then, his heart jumped. For, like bass darting in a
pool, Bishop and his flight wheeled and dived
They caught the Germans as they lost
speed on a turn.
The timing was perfect.
Biff! Bang! Two of the enemy planes
pitched out of control. Bishop got one. A fellow
pilot got the other.
Just an ordinary incident of
Bishop's career, but nothing could illustrate better
the cool sureness of his thrust. To my mind the war
produced no greater ace. It will be argued, of
course, that as against his seventy-two planes
Richthofen, the Red Knight of Germany, was credited
with eighty. True, and I have no wish to try to hurt
the glory of that great enemy pilot. But he was
different from Bishop in his methods and his
The baron seldom flew or fought
except in formation. He was a hide hunter. He picked
off lame ducks pulling from a fight. He specialized
in swooping on slow-motion artillery planes. In the
mornings he had the advantage of the sun, when it
showed, behind him as he Jay in wait for enemies.
The prevailing west wind was to his advantage in
getting home from a scrap.
It is significant that he knew the
names of most of the pilots he brought down, because
most of his fights were over home territory.
His total was augmented by planes
which he drove down without destroying.
If Bishop had been similarly
credited with machines driven down but not
destroyed, his total would have been well over a
hundred. But the British system allowed only claims
for planes crashed or sent down in flames and these
only when verified by other observers. Since ninety
per cent of his fights were over enemy country
Bishop could not follow and claim machines forced to
Unlike Richthofen, Bishop knew the
name of scarcely a man he downed. The pilots he
killed were impersonal enemies.
Strange that it should have been so,
since he was, by instinct and reason, an
individualist. He sought to fight on his own terms
and they were bold ones. His precise tactics,
evolved by intelligent planning and a cold, almost
mathematical fightcraft, were dependent on solo
An analysis of his fights, and he
had more than 200, shows that seventy-five per cent
of them were undertaken alone, and, in the main,
against odds. He picked off slow planes, of course,
since his job was to destroy the enemy and since he
made no secret of the fact that he was out to pile
up a score. But mostly he pitted his skill against
the fastest scouts. He attacked them singly. He
smashed into groups.
Fast, terrible, his guns blazing, he
crashed into formations of as many as nine and by
sheer élan frequently sent down one or
Bishop's last war day in France will
illustrate. It was a day of individual glory such as
few other airmen achieved.
But I offer Bishop's bag that day as
a record for a single flight. He got five in less
than two hours, four of them new-type scouts. And he
got them alone. When he set out that morning his
score was sixty-seven. Before lunch it had risen to
seventy-two. It was his grand finale.
That was on a June day, 1918, back
of Ypres. Ordered to report back to England for
administrative duty, with every possible honour an
airman could gain, he had gone out alone seeking one
last thrill. He got it.
The gods were good. He had scarcely
crossed the lines, high in the clouds, when his keen
eyes marked three Pfalz scouts, a new, fast German
type. No odds here, but his regular meat.
He dived on the nearest. His guns
ripped out one of those short, close bursts which
were his specialty and the enemy ship fell flaming
in a spin.
Hearing the rattle of his guns, the
remaining pair swung over and at him. And two other
scouts, out of a layer above, came diving down on
But let Bishop's official report
tell the rest of the story:
The second and third of the enemy
scouts circled around me, trying to get under my
tail, and as I dived beneath them they collided and
fell together, the first bursting into flames. The
remaining two started to climb away, and I chased
them, opening fire at two hundred yards. One of them
went into an uncontrollable spin and crashed. The
other zoomed into the clouds and escaped.
Four out of five fast scouts wiped
out by a lone Canadian in ten minutes!
It is typical of Bishop that he was
not satisfied. Whetted, he kept on cruising beyond
the lines. His report continues:
Near Neuve Église I met a
two-seater which I attacked from behind and beneath.
It burst into flames and crashed. Zooming down to
see what happened I encountered a column of enemy
troops on the march and scattered them. Then I
climbed into the clouds and went home.
That was his last act of active war.
On this fourth trip to France, in May and June,
1918, he had destroyed twenty-five planes in twelve
days, including the five just mentioned. For all
this he was given the Distinguished Flying Cross. In
1916 Bishop had spent four months at the front as an
observer without tasting blood. When he returned to
England to become a pilot he had not been under
Before he could start training he
had to spend months in hospital with a knee hurt
when a pilot crashed. It was his only wound.
Thousands of tracers subsequently sought him. He
came back to the base with as many as fifty bullets
in his plane with his engine shot up, holes
in his tank, his wings riven. And once a bullet
ripped his cap. But never once was he hit himself.
Toward the end of '16, having
qualified as a pilot, he served as a Zeppelin hunter
in England, but never saw a dirigible. Thus, when he
went to France to a fighting squadron in the early
spring of '17, it was with a suppressed, almost
virginal urge to prove his mettle. He proved it,
with speed. In less than two months' fighting he won
the Military Cross, the Distinguished Service Order
and, Britain's supreme reward for valour, the
Bishop's first fight was on March
In the next two weeks he had half a
dozen scraps, just missed being taken prisoner, and
got his first three Huns.
Then on April 7 he won the Military
Cross. The official statement of the award gave as
For conspicuous gallantry and
devotion to duty. He attacked a hostile balloon on
the ground, dispersed the crew and destroyed the
balloon, and also drove down a hostile machine which
attacked him. He has on several occasions brought
down hostile machines.
This bleak statement does not say
that he was again within a few feet of being taken
prisoner. His solo escapade took place five miles
within the enemy lines. Just as he set himself to
dive on the balloon from 5,000 feet, he was attacked
by a single-seater. Bullets cut through his wings.
He immelmanned and raked the enemy as he shot past.
As he fell, Bishop dived after him, to make sure.
Then he swooped after the balloon
until he was within fifty feet of the ground. His
tracers tore through its sides, firing it. But as he
machine-gunned the crew, his engine failed. He had
picked out a tree on which to smash his plane when,
unexpectedly, the motor started-and he hedge-hopped,
through gunfire, home.
Less than four weeks later, on May
2, he won the D.S.O. Again let me quote the official
For conspicuous gallantry and
devotion to duty. While in a single-seater he
attacked three hostile machines, two of which he
brought down, although in the meantime he was
himself attacked by other hostile machines. His
courage and determination have set a fine example to
Sounds simple as signing a check!
Facts were, Bishop, flying alone,
had come on three two-seaters, artillery observing.
He dived. They scurried, zigzagging. Picking one, he
swept to within twenty yards and slung a short drag.
The pilot slumped. The plane crashed.
Meantime its two fellows were
climbing toward him; and out of the clouds above
came four scouts, two firing as they came.
He seemed sandwiched.
But invariably, when crowded, Bishop
played a bold hand. Swinging past the nearest
two-seater, he spewed a burst into its side and shot
it down. Then he turned his nose up to the four
oncoming scouts. Straight as a dart he went at one,
head on, firing. It was a bold move he had made
again and again. The German gave way first. Bishop
went into a spinning nose dive and fell hundreds of
feet. Then he pulled out and flew home.
On May 10 he went to England on two
weeks' leave. He wanted to stay at the front and
fight and fight. He never felt happier. But he went
and ten days after his return he won the
At that time his record was
twenty-two. He wanted to bring his bag up. So he
conceived and planned an attack on an enemy
airdrome, picking June 2 for the raid.
That morning he had himself called
at three o'clock. It was still night as he dressed
and went out toward the hangars without
breakfast. No one knew of his plan but a couple of
friends. And they thought him crazy.
That did not worry him. He carried
through, and before he returned for breakfast he had
pulled off one of the most daring individual
exploits of the war. From the official citation and
other reports it is possible to reconstruct that
cold-nerved thrust at dawn.
Picture Bishop in a one-gun Nieuport
single-seater setting off from the sleeping base
near Vimy Ridge and climbing by the first faint
light on his lonely adventure. There was a ground
mist. The air was chill. The world seemed dead. Even
the war seemed done. He shivered.
But he swung out toward an airdrome
he had marked.
Picture him growing more tense as he
drew near. Imagine, then, his disappointment. The
drome was deserted. Not a plane was to be seen.
Did he turn back, glad of the
excuse? No, that would not have been Bishop. He set
his mouth harder and went farther. And shortly he
sighted the hangars and huts of another drome. Ah,
this was better! Meat, on ice!
He dropped to 500 feet, pulled up,
circled. Seven machines. Six scouts and a
two-seater, their engines running. Good. He ought to
get four, at least.
Men came rushing across the drome
with machine guns. Pilots climbed into the planes.
Above them Bishop poised, a boy with
fair hair and a little blond mustache in a plane.
Then, suddenly, he struck.
Sticking his nose down, he dived and
swept the ground with his gun. A man fell. He zoomed
and watched again. One of the scouts left the
ground. He turned, swept on its tail, and fired. It
crashed. He swung up and around.
A second scout took off. He did not
wait now. He flew over it, firing. It crumpled
against a tree.
Two more machines were now off the
ground. He climbed. One of them followed. He
immelmanned, circled, dived from 1,000 feet. Into it
he ripped the last bullets of his last drum and
caught it with his last shot. It fell outside the
Three up! In ten minutes fighting!
And an airdrome all torn up. Good again.
Bishop had hoped for four, but there
was no chance. He had no ammunition. He had to get
out and away. His plane had holes in it. Machine
guns still sprayed him from the ground. His head
suddenly turned dizzy. His stomach, without food,
felt empty and queer. Near by in the air was an
enemy and about 1,000 feet above his keen eyes
sighted four German scouts.
So he wheeled out for home and made
it. The enemy were content to hover over him, though
he was defenseless, which they did not know.
His exploit was confirmed, most
particularly since a Victoria Cross was involved.
Captured airmen told what he'd done. It had been the
talk of the German flying forces.
In August, 1917, Bishop returned, on
orders, to England to be attached to the School of
Aircraft Gunnery, but
before he went he added a bar to his D.S.O., which
was equivalent to a second award.
He had been in France five months.
In that time he had cleaned up Britain's roster of
fighting decorations, except the Distinguished
Flying Cross, which he won in 1918. He had destroyed
forty-seven enemy machines officially and driven
down twenty-three which he could not claim. He had
been in 110 fights.
This Canadian of twenty-three had
scaled war's pinnacle. He had become almost a
legend. His tactics, his machine gunnery, his dash,
his lone hawk fights, his cool impassivity, his
superb disdain, his apparent invincibility had made
him a veritable demigod. Even the smothering methods
of the British censor could not hide his flame.
Already he was Bishop the
nonpareil. His short month's return to France
in 1918, when in twelve days he got twenty-five more
planes, added to his score but merely gave an extra
hill to his reputation. By now his dash was rated.
His chest blazed with ribbons like a field
Like Richthofen, Bishop was
originally a cavalry officer. As a lad from Orillia,
Ontario, he had attended the Royal Military College
at Kingston, Canada's West Point. Shortly after the
war broke out he went overseas as a subaltern in the
Mississauga Horse. He loved horses. But, training in
England in the mud, as he relates it, his
imagination was caught one day by the flashing ease
of a plane. He entered the Royal Flying Corps.
Bishop was not the only Canadian to
win fame as a pilot, for thousands of his young
countrymen flocked to the air like ducks to a pond,
forming toward the end of the war almost half the
personnel of the British flying services.
Canada, produced four flyers whose
aggregate score was not beaten, so far as I know:
Billy Bishop, V.C., Bill Barker, V.C., Ray
Collishaw, who was recommended for the V.C., and Don
McLaren. Among them they won enough other
decorations to load a wheelbarrow.
These men destroyed by exact
official count 230 enemy machines: Bishop,
seventy-two; Collishaw, sixty; Barker, fifty; and
McLaren, forty-eight. The war's Big Four!
Every one of them returned from the
front, although poor Barker, hero of a single-handed
fight with sixty enemy machines in which he won the
V.C. but lost an arm, was to die a few months ago in
a peacetime flip near Ottawa.
Britain had gallant stars like Ball,
Mannock, McCadden, V.C. winners who were killed when
their scores were around fifty, but no British four
quite touched these Canadians total. Nor did any
French four. Guynemer, top man, had fifty-three. The
brilliant Fonck was below that. So was Nungesser.
As for Germany's biggest four,
Richthofen had eighty and Udet had sixty-two, but
none of the others, so far as I can learn, had over
forty. The highest possible score of Richthofen,
Udet, and any two other German aces would be 222.
By the way, it is worth recording
that in March, 1928, Colonel Bishop was the guest in
Berlin of a number of German aces and, proposed by
Udet, was made a member of the German Ace
Association; and that three months later, in London,
he was in turn dinner host to eight leading German
And now let us analyze the reasons
for Bishop's supremacy. First of all, he had
remarkable eyes, telescopic eyes, the eyes of a
questing falcon. Men who flew with him on patrol say
that he would signal enemy aircraft from three to
five minutes before the other pilots could pick them
out. The faintest speck, half hidden by a distant
cloud, was not too small for his long-range eyes to
This gave him an overwhelming
advantage in this war of the air in which position
and surprise were nine points toward victory.
Because of his eyes he was off on a
long, high climb into the sun or stealthily skirting
the edge of the heavens toward a favourable point
from which to strike long before the enemy were
aware of him. Or he was working in behind to come up
on their blind beam from below.
Many a Heinie only learned of his
presence when his guns spoke, and then, often, too
late. For one out of, roughly, four German planes
which faced him went down.
In Winged Warfare, his
own story of his 1917 campaign, he placed in the
order of their value: first machine gunnery; second,
tactics; and third, flying ability.
I have already touched on his
tactics. He was a master of sky ringcraft. He timed
his punch like a champion boxer. Having won his
position, or at the least sign of weak strategy, he
tore into an opponent and finished him, as often as
not, in the first round.
That brings us to his gunnery.
He scarcely ever fired at long
range. His specialty was infighting. He seldom fired
until the enemy was a mere length or two, twenty,
thirty, at the most fifty yards away. He waited
until he had a bead on his opponent's vitals. Then
he snapped out a short, sharp drag.
It is amazing the number of times he
dropped an enemy with his first burst of a few
His tracers blazed straight because
he made himself a master of machine gunnery. His
eyes helped here, too. He was, with the possible
exception of Fonck, the air's greatest sharpshooter.
To begin with, he never took his guns for granted,
like many pilots. He got to know them like a gunnery
sergeant. Several times when they jammed in a scrap
he pulled out, flipped around, fixed them, and then
darted in again to finish up an opponent.
With his intimate mechanical
knowledge went a shooting accuracy which few
approached. He practiced with his guns until he won
a skiff that was almost automatic.
He spent hours at the base diving at
a target, especially if he returned from a mishit
One of his greatest assets, in
manuvring and shooting, was his patience. He
built up his self-control until it became an
One day, he relates in his book, he
saw a solitary scout at a great height. Climbing
carefully, he got between it and the sun and waited.
He waited, cool as a poised hawk, until the enemy
made a favourable turn. Then he dived, hard, and
slipped under his tail without being seen.
Withholding his fire, he crept up until he could see
the markings of the unsuspecting Boche.
His eyes ranged along his sights.
His thumb lay on the button. Yet closer he crept
until he was less than twenty yards behind and
beneath. Then, precisely as a surgeon selecting a
place to cut, he picked the exact spot to hit, right
below the unseen pilot.
Only then did he fire sharply
just twenty rounds.
He saw them rip into the bottom of
His enemy lurched, then plunged.
Bishop had to sideslip off, so close was he to the
path of the falling plane. A few feet down, and the
enemy ship burst into flame.
So you have the picture of him as a
stalker and shot. He was dispassionate as an Indian
on the trail. To him this was big-game hunting, and
the fact that human lives were involved was
submerged. "Great sport," he called it in a letter
home. "I never enjoyed myself so much in my life."
That was in the early days. The only change later
was a greater coolness, a subtler finesse, a more
serious application to achieve.
It became then an ambition, rather
than a sport. In Winged Warfare he once
wrote, "I began to feel as if my list of victims was
not climbing as steadily as I would have liked . . .
. So I went over the lines from six to seven hours
every day, praying for some easy victim to appear. I
had had some pretty hard fighting. Now I wanted to
shoot a 'rabbit' or two."
To his glory, though, it may be said
that the majority of those with whom he tilted were
fast fighting scouts and he often gave them odds of
four, five, and six to one.
"To bring down a machine," he wrote
in another place, "did not seem like killing a man.
It was more as if one had just destroyed a
mechanical target with no human being in it . . .
very much as if one was shooting down clay pigeons."
How great was his control, how sure
were his tactics, how calm was his judgment, may be
gauged from the fact that from the middle of May,
1917, until he left France in August he lost only
one man killed out of his patrol. And that man was
shot on a flight in which he did not participate.
Bishop was controlled always. You
could not imagine him whooping, as many pilots did
through sheer strain, when they shot down a plane.
Being a precisionist, he did not shout when he
plugged an enemy machine, any more than Bobby Jones
would sinking a putt.
On the ground he was equally
self-contained. Aces like Barker and Collishaw were
idols. Their fellows felt kinship. But Bishop was
austere, aloof, godlike.
Even flying, he was not a stunter,
not a grand-stander. He kept his feelings corked.
Many men used to celebrate a kill by split-essing
all over the home drome. He never did. He would slip
in, turn his bus over to his mechanics, designate
overhaul or repairs, and hike off to tennis.
Yet he might have just come from a
scrap that would have left an ordinary man
For he had many narrow escapes.
Indeed, his career might have ended on his very
first fight, when he had to land with a dead engine.
But fortunately he found he had glided within
British lines with a hundred yards to spare.
Not only did Bishop destroy
seventy-two planes, but several balloons. But this
was too much like potting tame ducks to satisfy his
combat instincts. He only did it under orders, and
then thoroughly. He did get a kick, however, out of
raking enemy trenches and diving on masses of
troops. That appealed to his sense of sport.
A detailed account of his flights
and fights during his aggregate of six months'
service would crowd columns. He was seldom out of
the air when flying was feasible. He flew as many as
eight hours a day. During a single hour he once
engaged, single-handed, eleven different planes.
Like a flashing devil, he wheeled out of one scrap
into another. During this particular hour, he
crashed one, drove down another, forced half a dozen
two-seaters to quit artillery observation, and kept
five scouts from harassing British artillery
His speed of execution was terrific.
His shifting was fast as lightning. And his guns
spoke like a thunderbolt. It was not out of the way
for him to get two planes out of four Brrp!
Brrp! One! Two! with almost a continuous
burst on the same dive.
He seldom went out without finding
adventure, although he did not always score. One day
he exchanged shots three times with Richthofen's
circus without result. That was on the morning of
April 30, 1917, when he had nine separate fights
over German territory in back of Lens and Monchy
between nine forty-five and twelve fifteen. The
first was on patrol, the others on his own.
He was flying a Nieuport scout armed
with a single Lewis gun. Included was an engagement
with two three-seater Gothas. Later he crashed one
of three artillery two-seaters. Then, three times he
mixed it with the five red Halberstadt scouts,
harassing them until he forced them to land.
That same afternoon, accompanied by
a second plane, he engaged four red scouts which he
believed included Richthofen. It was a merry fracas.
The six fast machines, flown by cracks, circled and
dashed, dived and zoomed, immelmanned and flipped in
a battle royal. Bishop fired two bursts of five
rounds at the leader, presumably Richthofen, without
result. He fired ten at another plane. There was no
chance for accurate aim. This was pinch-hit
scrapping. Bullets struck within an inch of his own
It would have been epic if Bishop
had got Richthofen, or vice versa, but four strange
planes all of a sudden came butting in. Both sides
paused; pulled out to look. They proved to be
British naval triplanes. The Germans disappeared.
A couple of days later Bishop had
seven more individual tilts without a kill. And the
day following, when he was cruising along, half
asleep, a Boche came at him suddenly out of the sun.
But his luck held. He flipped over on the first
burst and dived.
He had his off days, but fortune
always rode with him, even when he missed.
After winning the Victoria Cross,
before leaving France in August, 1917, as a
gloriously arisen ace, Bishop continued to fight
with verve. He grew superb in his mastery of this
game of sudden death. Each victory added to his
assurance. When he could not shoot down enemies he
bluffed them. One day, scrapping with three planes,
he used up his ammunition and pulled out just
as the Huns, as if by common consent, did likewise.
They came back. So did he, with empty drums, and
went right at them. And they quit. It was during
this period that he added the bar to his D.S.O.
He has destroyed (said the official
citation) no fewer than forty-five machines in the
past five months, frequently attacking enemy
formations single-handed, and on all occasions
displaying a fighting spirit and determination to
get to close quarters with his opponents, which have
earned the admiration of all in contact with him.
After his long interlude in England
from August, 1917, to May, 1918, he returned to
France with this spirit and determination on edge,
and in little more than a month at the front soared
to Olympian heights. It was during twelve flying
days of this period that he got twenty-five planes,
the last five on his final day. He was now indeed
Bishop the unconquerable.
On his very first day back, mixing
it with a two-seater, he was attacked by ten enemy
scouts. Climbing right through them, firing, he
managed to escape in a cloud. He kept on climbing
and at 17,000 feet tackled a two-seater, which he
smashed over Passchendaele. His eye was in.
The day following, near Thourout, he
found himself above nine German scouts. Without
counting the odds, he dived, clipped one with a
thirty-round burst, and saw it fall flaming.
His falcon thrust had scattered the
He kept on diving through them. Six
hundred feet below his first kill, he twisted, spat
out another burst, and dropped a second plane
Five minutes of hell fire, then off
and away! That was Bishop on his return to the
Wet days intervened. Next time up,
east of Hazebrouck, he knocked a two-seater to bits
in the air. That afternoon he scrimmaged around the
edge of a patrol of fourteen slow ones, convoyed by
fast scouts. He darted in, flung a drag or two at
the nearest machines, but failed to score. Having
thrown the formation out, he scooted.
An hour later he drove down an
artillery machine which landed and did not count
Another day, still solo, he sought
change up on the coast by Nieuport and Ostend.
Sighting eight Albatros scouts, he waited, poised in
his well known way above and behind, biding the time
to strike. It came. One straggled. He dived. It fell
in flames into the North Sea.
Zooming to a convenient cloud, he
watched for a second chance as the disorganized Huns
cut circles seeking him. It came, too. He swooped.
And a second plane went down in flames. Then he
popped back into the clouds and vanished. Elusive as
June had come before he flew again.
Then one day he and his patrol mixed it with six
scouts. They bagged four.
Bishop got the leader. The others
fell to his patrol. Thus he destroyed the enemy. I
am only touching at random on a few high spots of
those twelve days of inspired flying. Once, over
Roulers, intent on weighing his chances if he went
after some enemy scouts high up and miles away, he
was attacked without warning by three two-seaters.
He dropped for his life so
low that he was machine-gunned from the ground. But
he zigzagged over the trenches, then all of a sudden
zoomed and caught the nearest Boche with a
fifty-round burst. The enemy crashed, burning.
The remaining pair came at him and
he had the unusual experience of a tail-chasing
merry-go-round. At last, though, he got one dead on
his sights and fired. It fell out of control and
The third made off. He followed, and
chased it fifty miles without catching up. It
escaped finally in a cloud.
On his way home he fought two
Albatros scouts. He drove one down out of control
beside the German trenches, where it was pounded to
bits by British guns. He sent the second down in a
spin, but was "archied" too heavily to make sure it
crashed, and therefore could not claim it.
Three planes on one flight! Thus he
brought up his bag.
On another occasion near
Armentières he had just crashed a two-seater
at 8,000 feet when four Albatros scouts came down at
him out of the sun. He was not aware of them until
he heard the rrrp! of their guns. With him action
was fast as thought. He fell spinning 4,000 feet,
flattened, then climbed full speed into the sun. It
was his turn now and he did not miss.
He dived at the nearest, so straight
indeed that a collision was averted only by his
shooting. At seventy-five yards a burst sent his
enemy slipping to a crash and he slid past
where he had been a moment before.
Before he could fight further, a
British patrol scared off the other three.
Once in a gap in the clouds he came
on four scouts lying in ambush. He barged into them
and with his first drag hit an enemy's gas tank.
There was an explosion and the plane fell in flames.
Banking at an awkward angle, he got another on his,
sights and fired, peculiarly enough causing another
explosion. And a second machine fell flaming. The
two left scurried off in the clouds.
As a climax to all this came that
last great day, of which I have already told, when
he bumped off five planes as a man might smash clay
pigeons at a shooting meet.
All he got for this Homeric flying
was the Distinguished Flying Cross. Britain had
nothing else to give, short of a peerage.
Thus ended Bishop's great adventure
as a winged warrior. He was made a lieutenant
colonel and brought back to England in June, 1918.
Evidently the authorities wanted to preserve his
flying genius to help train fighting pilots for the
last intensive months of the war.
There is little more to be told.
After the war he came back for a time to Canada and
with Colonel William Barker, V.C., his great
Canadian rival for premier honours, launched a
venture in commercial flying, which was no doubt
born too soon. It died, and Bishop returned to
But just as the war gave him fame,
so as a sequel, it gave him fortune.
He joined with a young engineer in a
scheme which involved the reclaiming of material
from the British military dumps in France. It is
said the two young men made millions. Then he turned
to banking and finance. He is said to have added to
He has stayed, in England. He lives
in Regent's Park. He breeds chow dogs. He plays polo
at Hurlingham. He rides to hounds with the Ducks. He
belongs to the Bath Club. He is a solid British
citizen of the better class.
The hawk has clipped his wings.