RCAF 1924 – 2024 Anniversary

RCAF-100yr Anniversary

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. [More info …]

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. [ More info … ]

Winged Warfare - Lt. Colonel William A. Bishop

William Avery Bishop, more commonly known as Billy Bishop, was one of the greatest fighter pilots of the First World War.

After months as an observer with the British Royal Flying Corps he eventually earned his wings in November 1916.

By March of the next year he was posted in France with No. 60 Squadron RFC near Arras along with his Niewport 17 fighter.

Prospects for a newly fledged pilot were not promising at this point of the war as the average life expectancy was eleven days and German pilots were shooting down British planes at a rate of five to one.

Bishop’s initial flying days did not begin in glory as during his first flight he became separated from his group and was nearly shot down by anti-aircraft fire, and two days after this he was forced to crash land during a practice flight. Shortly after these events he was ordered to return to flight school. [ More info … ]

Masters of the Air

The First World War, fought just over one hundred years ago, saw men fully engaged in a war in the air, shooting each other down at the first opportunity. It had been only a half a dozen years prior that the first known flight in Canada of a heavier-than-air machine, called the Silver Dart, flew across Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton, under the watchful eye of Alexander Graham Bell. The famous inventor of the telephone spent his summers in Nova Scotia and took an interest in the creation of a flying machine. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the coming of the First World War advanced the technology of flying a thousandfold. [More info …]

Aviation in Canada - 1915-1939

Milberry & Halliday. Honours Canada’s WWI airmen & aircraft. Covers training, then the deadly skies overseas. The famous scouts (Nieuport, Camel, D.VII, etc.) & 2-seaters and how they fared; then the amazing airmen. Many harrowing deeds dredged from combat reports, letters, diaries, etc.Also … Canadians fighting postwar in Russia’s civil war, our pioneer bush pilots + the birth of Canada’s air force. Rusty combat skills are revived as the RCAF acquires the Siskin & Atlas. Depression years, then war again looms, the RCAF modernizes, Canada manufactures its first fighters. You’ll be fascinated by all that transpired 1915-39. Never have so many photos from these times been so impressively presented in any Canadian book.

“FPO” is in that “must have” category for any aviation reader and … what an impressive gift!

184 pages, hardcover, large format, glossary, bibliography, index.

[ More info … ]

Home Front - Canada

The Great War Flying Museum

WWI Aerial Warfare

The Germans concentrated on downing reconnaissance machines, avoiding contact with Allied fighters. Airstrips were sited in the rear of battlefields, beyond the range of enemy guns, with airmen enjoying a lifestyle that was the envy of every other service. Their relatively comfortable quarters and amenities contrasted with those of the men at the front. However, the air war raged almost continuously without a lull as many airmen died in action. Germany introduced the Fokker Dr.1 Triplane. While slower than almost any other comparable fighter, it had startling agility and superb rate of climb. The Dr.1 was ideal for interception and close combat. In the hands of elite pilots, the Dr.1 proved to be a terrible scourge to the Allies. One of the most pivotal episodes, however, occurred on Apr. 21, 1918, when Manfred von Richthoften was shot down and killed over the Somme. With 80 air combat victories, the Red Baron was the ace of aces. His funeral was a testament to the abiding bonds of airmen of all nations. The great aviator was buried with full military honours not by his comrades, but by his Allied enemies. [ Full Article ]

Billy Bishop WW1 Canadian Ace

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 ]

The Skies Over Vimy

Rarely did an attack over the top unfold as it should. Troops were hampered by their inability to see the combat in battlefields like the Somme and Passchendaele. It was difficult to identify friend and foe with everyone covered in the same sticky mud, amid explosions and smoke, etc. Air­crew flying contact patrols had to get lower and lower to dif­ferentiate the opposing sides. Aircrew extensively practiced training with the troops. Aircraft flew over with Klaxon horns, sending out calls that prompted troops to signal their location. Troops were understand­ably reluctant about announcing a location. So they tried flares, or using Klaxon horns on the ground, with mixed results. One inventive British officer wanted his battalion to carry umbrellas. When the troops heard an aircraft sig­nal, they opened their umbrellas. Bill said he doubted if that commanding officer survived the next engagement. [ More info … ]

The Len Tripp Story

During his recovery, an officer visited the hospital looking for volunteers for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Having been assured that “walking was not a prerequisite” for joining the RFC, Len Tripp signed up! Following full recovery Tripp passed the medical tests and then learned to fly at Hounslow, Middlesex, England flying Avro 504K aircraft. After completing his flying training, he was posted back to France, where he was assigned to flying hazardous reconnaissance flights. In 1916 the average survival rates for RFC pilots was just 10 hours (about 10 – 12 flights). In November 1917, while over enemy lines, he was shot at by ground fire, causing his engine to overheat and seize. He and his Observer crashed into a shell hole in “No Man’s Land”. They both survived and after two days they reached the Allied lines and were hospitalized, the second time for Len. Following recovery, he was back in the air once more, but damaged another aircraft on landing.  [ More info … ]

WWI Gallery