Records, records, and still more Records.

Much has been written about Bishop's victories. Some claim that most can not be verified through German records. Considering that most of the ORIGINAL German records were lost or destroyed, I'm not too surprised.

In response to comments by Dr. S.F. Wise, Mr. Cowan and the National Film Board of Canada went to great lengths to try and prove Dr. Wise's comments wrong.

 

From the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee hearings

An analysis of statements made to the Senate Sub-committee on Veterans' affairs

                                 A. Symansky
                                 P. Cowan
                                 National Film Board of Canada

                                 November 28, 1985
1. ERRORS REGARDING BISHOP'S RECORD

     1. Dr. Wise:
        A very high proportion of Bishop's kills, so-called, were in fact verified as 
        the result of corroborative testimony.

        Response:

        American researcher, William Puglisi, obtained voluminous German squadron war 
        diaries from the German historian, Turnuss.  Turnuss did his work in the '30's 
        when such records had still not been destroyed.  These diaries from opposing 
        squadrons, while listing many casualties, fail in almost every case to confirm 
        Bishop's claims.

Much is made of the "Turnuss" records. These are HAND WRITTEN copies of the originals that certain German historians were given limited access to during the 1930's, AFTER the Nazi's had taken control of most, if not all of the German government.

Once it had been determined that Bishop most likely attacked Esnes aerodrome, and not Estourmel, it was Mr. A.E. Ferko, (who acquired 1/3 of the Turnuss records from Mr. W. Puglisi's estate after his death) that Cowan then consulted and came up with this theory that since there was no mention in the hand written copies, then nothing must have happened.

Concerning Jasta 20, which was the Jasta at Esnes aerodrome at the time of Bishop's attack, there is no mention of anything during that period since according to Turnuss, "there was nothing of worth there for the period in question."
Or to quote Col. A.J. Bauer RCAF (retd) "In other words, it is one man's subjective opinion."

I should like to point out, however that there is one curious incident during this "period of inactivity" that is notable. There were no, or very few events recorded from the records by Mr. Turnuss for the period of May 27, 1917 until July 11, 1917. But when the records picked up again, three pilots had disappeared off the roster, and had not been discovered anywhere else. The names of these 3 are Baurose, Geissler and Heiss.

However, now they show up in the Grub Street publication "The Jasta Pilots", published in 1996, written by Norman Franks, Frank Bailey, and Rick Duiven. At least two of them are definitely identified.  Baurose was in Jasta 20 from April 1917 until 6 February 1918.  Geisler was in Jasta 20 from 27 November 1916 until 27 July 1918.  However on Heiss, we run into a little controversy. The closest we get to that name is Heising, who was CO of Jasta 20 from either October or November of 1916 until October of 1917. Heising later became a Luftwaffe GeneralMajor in WWII.

Apparently we have a contradiction here, between more than one set of German records. The so-called "Turnuss" records drop 3 pilots from the roster but yet there's another set that has at least 2, and possibly all 3 in Jasta 20, when the material that Cowan used to rebut the criticisms of his film says they were not there.

I would like to mention here that more than one person has tried to impress me with the meticulousness of German record-keeping. Cowan tried to make a point of this to the Canadian Senate as well. I for one am not impressed. If they were so meticulous, how come we have two different copied sets of German records that can't agree on what happened to these three pilots.

From the book "Above The Trenches" by Shores, Franks & Guest, we get the following on German WWI records.

At the end of each entry a total is given, broken down by type of claim made. Finally where the identity of the aircraft claimed can be ascertained with a reasonable degree of certainty, this is provided with the name of the pilot or crew and the unit. 
This must not be considered difinitive, since German records are incomplete.*

 


*Page 44, the last paragraph from "Above The Trenches" ©1990 Grub Street
Created October 19, 1998
Last updated: October 16, 2008
©1998 by Albert Lowe. All rights reserved.
The information on this page was gleaned from "Hanging A Legend" by H. Clifford Chadderton, and from the Canadian Senate Sub-Committee for Veterans' Affairs hearings on the NFB tragedy, "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss".
The opinions expressed on this web page are mine alone. By no means should the use of any reference be construed as to suggest that anyone else mentioned on this site shares those opinions, unless stated explicitly so.