Artifact of the Week: Winged Warfare

By Leigha Cooney

This weeks artifact of the week is an autobiography called Winged Warfare. It was written by Major W. A Bishop. He is more commonly known as Billy Bishop, the famous ‘ace’ during the First World War, and recruiting officer for the Royal Canadian Air Force During the Second World War.

William Avery (Billy) Bishop Jr. was born in Owen Sound in 1894. Growing up, Billy was an avid outdoorsman, participating in activities such as riding, shooting and swimming.

In this book, Bishop describes his experiences during the First World War. When war broke out, he first joined the Mississauga Horse Regiment in August 1914. Later, he was reassigned to the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles. By July 1915, Bishop and his regiment were stationed at the Shorncliffe Military Camp in England. It was here that he credits a change in his military ambitions.

norasuitcase-0082“It was the mud, I think, that made me take to flying… I had succeeded in getting myself mired to the knees when suddenly, from somewhere out of the storm, appeared a trim little aeroplane.
It landed hesitatingly in a near-by field as if scorning to brush its wings against so sordid a landscape; then away again up into the clean grey mists.

How long I stood there gazing into the distance I do not know, but when I turned to slog my way back through the mud my mind was made up. I knew there was only one place to be on such a day – up above the clouds in the summer sunshine.”

William A. Bishop, Winged Warfare

After receiving his wings, Bishop was sent to France. Over the next few months, had recorded 62 victories. When he was granted leave to return to Canada in September 1917, he wrote recorded his experiences in this book.