A tough Canadian, Billy Bishop was considered an outstanding fighter pilot endowed with great courage. Though he led 85 Squadron with distinction, he preferred to fight his air combats single-handed. Indeed he was awarded the Victoria Cross when, on one of his solitary forays, he attacked an enemy airfield at dawn shooting down three aircraft as they took off. Unlike many of his contemporary aces, Bishop survived the war and returned to Canada with 72 victories.
Every print has been personally signed by the artist as well as two iconic fighter Aces who flew the SE5A in combat during the First World War:
Captain ROBERT CHILDLAW-ROBERTS
After training at the After training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst he joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915 initially as an Observer / Gunner before undergoing Pilot training. He started as a night fighter on the F.E.2b before moving to fly the S.E5a finishing WWI as a double Ace with 10 victories in this aircraft. After leaving the RAF in 1920 he retuned to active duty in 1942 serving as a reserve Pilot during WWII, finally retiring from the RAF in 1954.
Wing Commander GWILYM LEWIS
After paying to put himself through private pilot training in 1915 because the Royal Flying Corps had ‘no openings’, he was accepted by the RFC, entering operational service in March 1916. After a spell flying and Airco DH.2 he became a flight Commander flying the S.E.5 and his scores soon mounted, finishing WWI as an Ace with 12 victories. He left the RAF in 1921 but rejoined in 1939 and served s a member of the Cabinet War Rooms during WWII, directly reporting to and briefing Winston Churchill.
Just a small number of prints in this edition were additionally autographed by the following 12 Squadron RFC Observer / Air Gunner:
Second Lieutenant PHILIP BERETON TOWNSEND
Joining the Royal Flying Corps in 1914 he flew as an Observer / Air Gunner on the R.E.8 carrying out bombing missions and as a spotter in support of Allied Artillery units. He retired from the RAF in 1922 and became a celebrated author.
Published in 1988, this stunning print isn’t often seen on the secondary market these days but the classic image combined with such iconic signatures make it a historic collector’s item