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Was Billy Bishop, the top Canadian ace of WW1, a fraud?


Was Billy Bishop, the top Canadian ace of WW1, a fraud?

His Wiki certainly reads like it's a real possibility he fabricated many, even most, of his 72 claimed victories, a total that would make him either the second or third allied ace of the War, depending on your count for Mick Mannock. But I don't have the background to interpret what I'm reading, here:

After years of controversy over Bishop's record, mainly because very few of his claimed victories were witnessed by anyone else or could be confirmed from the few surviving German records, the show led to an inquiry by the Canadian government in 1985. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology discredited the documentary, saying it was an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of Bishop. There is some dispute about whether Bishop or Mick Mannock had the highest score of any British Empire First World War fighter ace.[citation needed] The Canadian Encyclopedia states: "Investigation by a Senate sub-committee exposed a number of minor errors in this apparent 'documentary' and confirmed that statements had been wrongly attributed and incidents shifted in time for dramatic effect. However, the senators were unable to demonstrate that Bishop's claims were valid, and consequently recommended only that the film be labelled as docu-drama".[citation needed]

Some of Bishop's other claims have also been challenged. While combat reports and claims of both sides are littered with well-intentioned errors and accidental duplicate claims, there are two phases of Bishop's life in which German records can provide no supporting evidence. In his book on Victoria Cross airmen of the First World War, author Alex Revell quotes aviation historian Philip Markham's view about German records of the events of June 2, 1917 (the day of Bishop's VC award): "Not a shred of evidence to support Bishop's claims." Referring to Bishop's claims in early to mid-1918, Revell says another aviation historian, Ed Ferko, carried out extensive research on Germans records in 1987. Revell says that Ferko failed "to match a single victory claim made by Bishop against a known German loss for the day, time or place in question." However, distinguished First World War aviation historian Peter Kilduff says in his biography (Billy Bishop VC: Lone Wolf Hunter) that Bishop may have had as many as 21 matches in piecemeal German records. Kilduff, the author of 16 books, is renowned for his research in German records. Kilduff also makes a strong case for the unreliability of German records. He cites examples in which masses of data were destroyed by retreating German forces and instances of the German former air ministry having been guilty of "obfuscation" in denying losses when casualties had been incurred.[81]

What's the consensus? Was Billy Bishop a fraud?

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