Paul Cowan's Witnesses.
In conducting his "research" (and I use the term loosely when connected to Paul Cowan), he reportedly has two sources that he "consulted" before making his movie. And one he TRIED to consult, but refused to speak with him. They were former 60 Squadron member, and contemporary of Bishop, Willy Fry, 60 Squadron "amateur" historian (non-contemporary of Bishop) Squadron Leader D.W. Warne RAF (retired), and a taped interview at the British Imperial War Museum in London of a Mr. Archibald James.
First, Willy Fry:
Willy Fry was a member of 60 Squadron both before and during Bishop's presence in 60 Squadron. He was Bishop's deputy flight leader for a time, and was awarded the Military Cross while with 60 Squadron. He was also an ace in his own right with 11 confirmed victories.
So far, to this day we do not know exactly what Fry said to Cowan. As Fry has passed away, Cowan is the only one left who could tell us what they talked about. But according to Cowan, the conversation he had with Fry is one of the reasons he began to doubt the official history concerning Billy Bishop.
UPDATE!!!(March 23, 2001) According to a long time friend of Fry's, author Alex Revell, Paul Cowan never spoke to Fry. Fry refused to see him.
Another fact is that the night before Bishop's planned raid on a German aerodrome, he told Fry of his plans, Fry reportedly said that was fine, or words to that effect. The next morning, at about 3 o'clock, Bishop went to Fry, who was still in bed and asked if he was coming. Fry's response? He turned over and went back to sleep. Reportedly, according to different sources, there had been some sort of "celebration" going on the night before.
In 1974 Fry published "Air of Battle", his auto-biography. In this book there is NOTHING critical of Bishop. And no where does he question Bishop's victory claims, nor the raid for which he received the VC.
It is however, my understanding that in 1977, Willy Fry along with Grid Caldwell refused to sign the RAF Cover commemorating Bishop's VC raid. I have to ask myself, "WHY?". The one POSSIBLE answer that comes back to me, for Fry and Caldwell, Jealousy. It could have been the old "Why him and not us" syndrome. In Fry's case, he had his chance to go with Bishop, but he didn't.
Next, D.W. Warne
Squadron Leader(retired) D.W. "Joe" Warne gave written information concerning his own background to the Canadian Senate sub-committee on Veterans Affairs, indicating that he has had a personal interest in RAF history dating back beyond 1941. His statement is as follows: "I am considered to be the expert on 60 Squadron history." I should point out that according to information recorded in "Hanging A Legend" by H. Clifford Chadderton, S/L Warne's reputation as Squadron historian was questioned by Squadron Leader J. Maddocks, the current (in 1985) CO of 60 Squadron. Also, Warne is supposedly the person who told Cowan that Fry had doubts about Bishop. Reportedly, in doing this, Warne betrayed a trust. What Fry had told Warne was not supposed to be told to anyone beyond him. All I can say is, the more people you tell a secret to, the more likely it is to get out.
Created October 19, 1998
Last updated:April 26, 2002
©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 those of Albert "Al" Lowe 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.
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