William Arthur Bishop wrote this biography as a result of the promise he made to his father before he died in 1956. The author's own career in the RCAF began when he was presented with his wings by his father at Uplands, Ottawa, 1942. He subsequently served overseas as a Spitfire pilot with the First Canadian Squadron 401. Mr. Bishop died in his sleep in Toronto on February 14, 2013, at the age of 89.
The Courage of the Early Morning
A high-flying, action-packed tale for readers of all ages about the adventurous life of a Canadian icon.
William Avery Bishop survived more than 170 air battles during World War I and was given official credit for shooting down seventy-two German aircraft. Experts on aerial warfare acknowledge that his relentless air fighting techniques and skills as a brilliant individualist and marksman were unique and his record unsurpassed. He was the first man in British military history to receive the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order, and the Military Cross in one ceremony.
This remarkably objective biography, written by Bishop’s son, is a warm-hearted, entertaining, and often surprisingly outspoken account of the escapades and heroics of a man of great courage. Eddie Rickenbacker one said, "Richthofen usually waited for enemies to fly into his territory; Bishop was the raider, always seeking the enemy wherever he could be found … I think he’s the only man I ever met who was incapable of fear."
Throughout his life Billy Bishop was something of an eccentric – a man of ebullient high spirits and feverish enthusiasm. As a boy in Owen Sound, Ontario, though, he had no aptitude for learning. His three years at the Royal Military College were disastrous – an epic of rules broken and discipline scorned. He often admitted that his special method of landing wrecked more planes than he shot down.
In the days when fliers could rightly think themselves heroes for just having the courage to go up in the rickety plans, Billy Bishop won the respect of comrades and enemies alike. He was one of the new breed of warriors who met the deadly challenge of air combat and made the airplane a decisive military weapon.