Barker VC – Wayne Ralph

William Barker was Canada’s most decorated war hero, yet he has remained a footnote in history. This extensively researched biography addresses this oversight, and reinstates William Barker to his rightful place among Canada’s heroes.

The story of William Barker’s incredible life reads like a novel. Raised in Manitoba, he left for the war in Europe. During his service he won the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order (twice), and the Military Cross (three times). A crack shot and a natural leader, Barker’s most famous exploit, single-handedly taking on 15 German planes, made him a legend. Barker came home as the nation’s most decorated war hero. On March 12, 1930, aged 35, he was killed in Ottawa demonstrating a new aircraft to the RCAF. His state funeral in Toronto was attended by more than 50,000 people.
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Winged Victor – Gordon Atkin

Winged Victor is a biography of Victor Maslin Yeates, a WW1 Sopwith Camel pilot who served on 46 and 80 Squadrons and whose novel Winged Victory is widely considered to be one of the classics on aerial warfare in the Great War.
It is often quoted as an authoritative source as Yeates relied heavily on his own experiences of flying on the Western Front during the German ‘March Push’ and the Allied offensive in August.

Yeates wrote the book hoping to provide funds to maintain his wife and four children when he became incapable of working due to TB, attributable to the strain of combat flying during the war. Written when he was in and out of sanatoriums, Winged Victory was finally published in June 1934, just six months before his death.   [ More info … ]

Victory at Vimy – Ted Barris

At the height of the First World War, on Easter Monday April 9, 1917, in early morning sleet, sixteen battalions of the Canadian Corps rose along a six-kilometre line of trenches in northern France against the occupying Germans. All four Canadian divisions advanced in a line behind a well-rehearsed creeping barrage of artillery fire. By nightfall, the Germans had suffered a major setback. The Ridge, which other Allied troops had assaulted previously and failed to take, was firmly in Canadian hands. The Canadian Corps had achieved perhaps the greatest lightning strike in Canadian military history. One Paris newspaper called it “Canada’s Easter gift to France.”

Of the 40,000 Canadians who fought at Vimy, nearly 10,000 became casualties. Many of their names are engraved on the famous monument that now stands on the ridge to commemorate the battle.
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With determination and more than a little spirit of boyish enterprise, a fifteen year-old Billy Bishop turned his reading of newspaper accounts of the first heavier-than-air flight in Canada (and the British Empire) by Canadian John McCurdy in the Silver Dart, into a reckless adventure of his own. His version of the now famous aircraft, crudely constructed from wood, cardboard, wire and a lot of strong string, carried him -mostly vertically- from the roof of the family’s Victorian home, to an inescapable crunching conclusion as it crashed in a heap on the lawn below. Out of the consequent carnage crawled the irrepressible Billy, only slightly injured but not in any way cowed. As it turned out, he would also live through many violent landings as a real pilot too. In fact his landing skills remained relatively underdeveloped during his whole flying career.   [ Full Article ]