2508 William ‘Billy’ Bishop pt.2

On May 7, the Royal Flying Corps suffered one of their greatest losses when the great Albert Ball was shot down near Annoeullin, France. Ball had just scored his 44th victory and was pursuing another plane when he disappeared into a cloud. When he reappeared, his plane was falling from the sky and his propeller was motionless. Ball fell from the sky and his plane crashed some distance away. Lothar von Richthofen, the Red Baron’s younger brother, was officially credited with the kill.

Ball’s death had a profound impact on his fellow flyers, especially Bishop. Shortly before his death, Ball attempted to recruit Bishop for a daring raid on German airfields. “It’s occurred to me that it’s awfully inefficient always to wait until enemy planes are in the air to attempt to destroy them,” Ball told Bishop. “My idea is to pull of an attack—you and I, on the aerodromes around Douai.” The two aces would take flight in the early morning before dawn and surprise the Germans before they could even pull their planes out of the hangers. Bishop liked the idea and would await Ball’s instruction on when the attack was to take place.

With Ball’s death, Bishop feared that such an attack would never happen. In the meantime, Bishop was due for a visit to London, but not before he took another solo flight and scored another two kills.’

This episode was written by Michael Gabbe-Gross.

Michael received his Masters Degree in History from the California State University, Sacramento. His thesis project analyzed the Phoenix Program, a CIA counterinsurgency operation during the Vietnam War.