Reading and learning are two of my passions and it is my pleasure to share these books with you.I have read them all and have found them to be both insightful and engaging. I encourage your feedback and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Maj Chris Buckham
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Billy Bishop VC Lone Wolf Hunter - Peter Kilduff
Billy Bishop VC Lone Wolf Hunter
Bishop's legacy has left an indelible mark upon not only the annals of World
War 1 aviation but Canada as a nation. A small town boy of a middle class
family, he rose to worldwide fame and the highest levels of Imperial society.
His fame centred upon his claim to being not only a cold-blooded fighter
pilot who preferred to hunt and kill on his own but also the top scoring Allied
pilot of the war.
has undertaken a review of a subject that has been written about and debated
extensively by historians, scholars and journalists. HIs intent is to determine
the validity, based upon the available documentation and a study of the
personality of the man himself (in his own and others words and recollections),
of the persona and the reputation that ‘Billy Bishop’ has become; for it is no
secret that the symbology of Billy Bishop has greatly eclipsed the man himself.
author draws upon a wide variety of sources to tease out who Bishop was. His
conclusions, that Bishop was not a saint and certainly exaggerated his exploits
in his letters home for the benefit of impressing his future wife, reinforce the
position held by those doubters of the accuracy of his claims. However,
balanced against this, is the fact that he was undoubtedly extremely brave,
aggressive and willing to take the fight actively to the enemy which suggests
that his claims are not as far-fetched as they may initially have seemed. The
truth, as it may be determined this far after the fact, lies, so Kilduff
suggests, somewhere in between.
book is a quick and enjoyable read. At times it feels somewhat shallow in terms
of evaluation (especially in his early years) but it does effectively cover his
training and operational flying time. It contains a great many photographs that
give excellent perspective on why accurate determination of kills and damaged
enemies was so difficult. The narrative utilizes first person recollections
from Bishop himself, his trainers, fellow pilots and airmen and it builds a
comprehensive picture of Bishop the pilot (and the personality that accompanied
it). Additionally, Kilduff reviews each individual kill claim comparing
them against British, German and eyewitness documents.
didn't find discover a lot of new material or revelations in this book
that hasn't already been brought up in various other works, but it was well put
together and useful as a reference. The production value of the book is
excellent and the author has provided a solid bibliography for further reading.
I found Kilduff's conclusion particularly poignant and relevant when compared
with our modern tendency and need to challenge and discredit: does it really
matter how many kills Bishop scored during the war; after all, it does not in
any way diminish his bravery, service or legacy as one of the earliest Canadian
heroes. True words and an enjoyable work.