Go Back   Canada at War Forums > Canada and First World War (World War I) > Equipment & Arms
Register FAQ Donate Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 05-17-2011, 12:31 PM   #1
Spaniard
The Lady From Hell!
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 864
Default Canadians Service With The Royal Flying Corps & Royal Naval Air Service.


During 1916, there was a renewed interest in aviation within the Department of the Militia and Defence. The War Council and the Canadian Headquarters overseas thought that Canada should have their own air services supporting the war effort. Much effort was placed on realizing this dream; however, Ottawa would not support this concept and the second attempt to create a national air force died.

Because Canada did not have a national air service during World War One, many Canadians served with distinction in the Royal Flying Corps, the Royal Naval Air Service and later the Royal Air Force. Some of the more famous Canadians were Raymond Collishaw, William "Billy" Bishop, "Wop" May, Roy Brown, William Barker and Alan McLeod to name a few. The exploits of some of these aviators are covered in another article. This early link with British military aviation is where a great many of our customs, traditions and dress codes originated.



Canadians served on all the fronts of the war, from the Home Front (England) to the Western Front (France and Belgium) down to Italy and the Dardanielles, over the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, and over Egypt and Palestine. Canadians served with pride and distinction (3 Victoria Crosses were won by Canadian airmen), and by the wars end it has been estimated that over 23,000 Canadians served within the air services of the United Kingdom, of whom 1,563 made the ultimate sacrifice.

At first, the RFC and the RNAS recruited only trained personnel, mainly pilots. This severely taxed on the training services in Canada. At this time candidates had to pay for their own training (about $400 for 500 minutes of flying) and one prominent Canadian's training school was running at full capacity: J.A.D. McCurdy had a flying school at Toronto Island. However, as the war progressed, the RFC decided to provide pilot training for suitable candidates.



The first Canadians to graduate from McCurdy's flying school were Homer Smith and Arthur Ince. Later Arthur Ince shot down a German seaplane (14 December 1915) off the coast of Belgium; this was the first Canadian kill in World War 1. Another Canadian who paid for his own training was John Bernard "Don" Brophy, of Ottawa. Don joined the RFC after graduating from the school at Toronto Island and departed for England on 8 December 1915. At the time Don reached the front, the life expectancy for a pilot was three weeks, but Don lasted an incredible five months. During this time, he suffered with most of the problems of the day: engine, airframe and propeller failures were common. In addition, during this time, air fighting was in its infancy: rifles and pistols were being carried in cockpits and bombs were strapped to the side of the aircraft. However, after surviving duty at the front and while serving on the Home Front, Don died on Christmas Eve 1916 when the airframe of his BE12 failed and he spiraled into the ground.

Life in the RFC/RNAS was not "a bed of roses" for the glamorous flyboys as depicted in the movie "The Dawn Patrol"; there were many hardships. A typical air station on the Western Front consisted of an open field (airstrip), canvas hangars, officers' mess (normally the only solid construction around) and living quarters (generally under canvas). More often than not, there would be another squadron using the same open field, but established on the opposite side of the grass runway. Flying continued throughout the extreme summer heat with its dust and sweat and in winter during the rains (creating quagmires and muddy lakes) and the cold of November to February. Dysentery, fever, nerves and stomach problems were all common place in the air services, and life expectancy for a new pilot in 1918 had decreased to a few days.



Saturday July 21st Bummed around. Company QM stores with Lawrence. Lay under trees across road from hut for an hour. Sat out behind hut and sketched scene for half an hour or so. Went down town to cash postal order. Walked around to 3 different Post Offices. Ate at Maple Leaf Club. returned to camp. Wrote letters, made coffee, had eats. Retired at 10 pm.


The missions varied with the aircraft. Originally, the airplane was seen as an observation platform for artillery spotting. Then aviators started arming themselves and shooting at each other, with the occasional success. This brought technology into the forefront, as methods were devised to mount machine guns on aircraft. Some of the early methods were an over wing mount to avoid the propeller, mounting the engine on the rear (pusher type) so a machine gun could be fired out the front of the aircraft, armour plating the back side of the propeller so that bullets fired by the pilot would not damage the propeller (this, however, meant that one in every five rounds fired bounced off the propeller), and finally, after the design was found on a German aircraft, an interrupter gear mechanism (the machine gun ceased firing anytime the propeller swung through the firing arc). In addition, the pilots were also dropping things from aircraft, such as flechettes (large steel darts that could penetrate a steel helmet), progressing to grenades and finally to bombs.

Canadians were involved in all the various aspects of the flying war. Of the twenty-seven allied pilots who had thirty or more combat victories, ten were Canadians, including the top ace (Maj Bishop with 72 victories) and the third top ace (Maj Collishaw with 60 victories). In addition, as previously mentioned, three Canadian airmen won the Commonwealth's highest award for valour, "the Victoria Cross": Maj Bishop, Maj Barker and Lt McLeod.

William Avery "Billy" Bishop was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, 8 February 1894. At the termination of a very unsuccessful academic career, Bishop joined the Mississauga Horse and at the outbreak of the war was a cavalry Lieutenant. Shortly after his arrival in England, Bishop saw his first airplane and at that point he decided that the only way to fight a war is, "up there above the clouds and in the summer sunshine". Bishop originally trained as an observer and flew for four months at the front before an injury placed him in the hospital. Upon his release, he discovered he could now apply for pilot training. After completing the course in only fifteen hours, Bishop was posted to a Home Defence unit. Bishop was finally posted to the Western Front in March 1917; reporting to No 60 Squadron RFC. It only took him eight days to score his first victory. Bishop quickly established a reputation as a loner and a crack shot, and his score of combat victories grew very rapidly. On 2 June 1917 Bishop took off before dawn on a mission he and Albert Ball had discussed; the idea was to attack the enemy before he was prepared for the attack. On that day, Bishop single-handedly attacked a German aerodrome and shot down three enemy aircraft for which he won the Victoria Cross. Late in 1917 he departed England for Canada for a well-earned rest. Upon his return in early 1918, Bishop was promoted to Major and posted to command No 85 Squadron, and in his final two weeks in combat he shot down an incredible twenty-five enemy aircraft, twelve coming in the last three days. After this feat, Bishop was posted to a staff job as he was now considered a valuable war symbol. His secondment to the RAF was terminated and he was attached to the Canadian Headquarters Overseas as a temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. While in this staff job he pursued the creation of the Canadian Air Force.



Last edited by Spaniard : 05-17-2011 at 01:12 PM.
Spaniard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 12:33 PM   #2
Spaniard
The Lady From Hell!
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 864
Default




Produced in 1915 as the Admiralty Type 184, but more commonly referred to as 225s due to the horsepower of the initial powerplant, the Short Seaplane established the Short Brothers' reputation as designers of first-class seaplanes and was extensively used during the First World War. One even made history during the Dardanelles campaign when it became the first Aircraft in the world to sink an enemy ship at sea by means of a torpedo.


Although he did not win a Victoria Cross, Raymond Collishaw was another prominent Canadian, finishing the war as third overall allied ace. Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, on 22 November 1893. He joined the RNAS in 1914. His first mission over the front was flown in September 1916 with No 3 Wing RNAS. On 1 February 1917 he was transferred to No 3 (Naval) Squadron. In April he was promoted to Flight-Commander and posted to No 10 (Naval) Squadron. With him he took four other Canadians, Ellis Reid of Toronto, J.E. Sharman of Winnipeg, J.E. Nash of Hamilton and M. Alexander of Montreal. With these people Collishaw formed the "Black Flight" (each flight was assigned its own colour and Black was the colour for his flight), one of the most successful flying units on the Western Front. Finally, by January 1918, Collishaw had again been promoted and placed in command of No 3 (Naval) Squadron. Naval squadron commanders were not expected to fly, but Collishaw disregarded this rule as much as he could. On 1 April 1918, Collishaw officially transferred to the RAF and was placed in command of 203 Squadron. In his final four months in combat he scored an additional twenty victories. On 1 October 1918 Raymond Collishaw was withdrawn from the front, promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and posted to aid the formation of the CAF. Raymond Collishaw retired from the RAF as an Air Vice Marshal in 1943.


1918: The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) were combined to form the Royal Air Force.


William George Barker was born in Dauphin, Manitoba, in November 1894. He initially joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles and fought in the Second Battle of Ypres. When "Willy" first transferred to the RFC he went as a mechanic, but flew several missions as a machine gunner. In April 1916 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant observer and in late 1916 he returned to England for pilot training. Upon his graduation in January 1917, he was posted back to the Western Front. After flying a tour on RE8s, he returned to England in early September to instruct student pilots. The restless Barker, applied for a transfer to a scout squadron and in late September he was posted to No 28 Squadron. In October the squadron proceeded to Belgium, but by late October it was moved to northern Italy to bolster the sagging Italian Front. This front provided a different opportunity for the pilots, as the Austrians had very few aircraft and, therefore, the mission was primarily ground support. In September Barker was recalled to England to command the school of air fighting at Hounslow. On 27 October, while returning to Hounslow from his attachment to No 201 Squadron, Maj Barker attacked a Rumpler CVII reconnaissance aircraft and shot it down. While following it down, he was attacked by a Fokker DR I. In the ensuing diving fight Barker shot down the DR I, but received a bullet to the thigh. Upon his recovery from this engagement, Maj Barker flew into a German Jagdgeschwader (squadron). During the spiraling melee Maj Barker shot down another three German aircraft, but he also received two more injures (another in the thigh and one in the right elbow). While the Germans withdrew, Maj Barker crash-landed close to the front lines and members of the Highland Light Infantry were able to extract him from the wreckage. Maj Barker won the Victoria Cross for this action.



Second Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod of Stonewall, Manitoba, was the third Canadian airman to receive the Victoria Cross. His action was not against the enemy, but for saving the life of his observer. While on a photo-reconnaissance mission, McLeod's aircraft was attacked by eight enemy tri-planes. After a fierce fight, a bullet eventually penetrated the fuel tank and set the aircraft on fire. McLeod continued to fly his aircraft while his gunner/observer, Lt A.W. Hammond, warded off further attack. The fire became so intense that even with sideslipping McLeod had to climb out of the cockpit. From here he continued to fly the aircraft toward a safe arrival with the ground. He was finally able to crash-land the aircraft in no-man's land where, though he was wounded five times and his observer six times, he was able to extract his observer from the wreckage. During this fight, the observer was able to shoot down three of the enemy aircraft. For this action Lt A.A. McLeod was awarded the Victoria Cross.








Source; http://www.canmilair.com/rcafhistory.htm



Last edited by Spaniard : 05-17-2011 at 01:44 PM.
Spaniard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2014, 11:28 AM   #3
Chuck Beattie CD
Chuck Beattie CD
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Perth Ontario
Posts: 1
Default 266 Sqn RFC

My grandfather Charles Alexander Beattie at 20 years old joined up in Ingersol Ontario Jan 1916 assigned to the 168th Bn CEF and served in the Artillery. He transferred to the RFC as a pilot Officer. In 266 Sqn he flew a Short 184 Sea plane bomber off the Greek Island Limnos. In 1919-20 he was part of the forces that went to fight in Russia traveling on board the sea plane carrier through Constantinople to the Crimea. He served on HMS VINDEX at some point, I've a photo of a Short 184 being hoisted onboard.
Chuck Beattie CD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-17-2014, 10:36 PM   #4
Greenjellyfish13
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 3
Default WW1 Pilots

This is a very good post and I just wanted to add that Raymond Collishaw was from Nanimo BC. I have a few photos of James Alexander ( Ally) Shaw and Harry Chisam who were both in the #3 Squadron of the RNAS duing the war. James Alexander Shaw was from Belfast Ireland and he lived on Earlswood Road in Belfast and was on the same street as Captain Tommy Byers who lived at 144 Earlswood Road. Tommy Byers had taken and collected photos from people he knew from the war. Tommy was 94 years old when he gave me his photo collectionback in 1976. There are close to 400 images with a wide variety of photos. I will post the photos of James Alexander Shaw and Harry Chisam on this site for everyone to see.
Greenjellyfish13 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2016, 09:32 AM   #5
Temujin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 5,890
Default

Temujin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2016, 09:37 AM   #6
Temujin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 5,890
Default

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 22 Sep 1916, Fri, Page 2

Temujin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 07:56 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.