Wing Commander William Mays Fry, MC
1896 - 1992

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Born: 14 November, 1896
Died: 4 August, 1992
Squadrons: 12, 11, 60, 23, and 79
Confirmed Victories: 11
William Mays Fry was born on 14 November, 1896. He served in France as a Territorial infantry private in 1914 until he was returned to England in December as being under age. He was commissioned in the Somerset Light Infantry, but then transferred to the RFC in December 1915. After training he went to 12 Squadron, flying BE-2Cs. He next served with 11 Squadron and when, after the Battle of the Somme, ‘C’ Flight was absorbed into 60 Squadron, Fry and Albert Ball were two of the pilots transferred. He flew with 60 Squadron during the summer of 1917 as "Billy" Bishop’s deputy flight leader, before returning to England with an MC.

He was not happy to be away from the front and persuaded his superiors to put him back on operations. After a brief spell with 87 Squadron which was forming, he was given command of ‘C’ Flight in 23 Squadron, flying Spads. With 23 he claimed at least five victories, including an Albatros Scout shared with 70 Squadron on 6 January 1918; the pilot of this was Walter von Büllow of Jasta "Boelcke", victor of 28 combats. From 23 Squadron he went to 79 Squadron which had just formed on Dolphins; before he left this unit he had claimed his 11th victory. He remained in the RAF after the war, becoming a Wing Commander before retiring. During World War II he returned to the service from 1939-45. His autobiography, Air of Battle, was published in 1974.

In the early 1980's W.M. Fry became an unwilling part of the so-called Billy Bishop Controversy. This started in 1981 when NFB Producer Paul Cowan decided to make a film about Billy Bishop. As part of his "research" Mr. Cowan interviewed some people in the UK. One of those was 60 Squadron Historian, Squadron Leader (Ret.) D.W. "Joe" Warne. Apparently S/L Warne told some things to Mr. Cowan that he was not supposed to. Apparently these were statements attributed to WC Fry. Fry refused to speak to Mr. Cowan who was then left with whatever information he got from S/L Warne.

The resulting film was attacked by Canadian veterans groups and was the subject of a Canadian Senate hearing. Unfortunately, some members of the Senate, without virtue of his testimony, attacked the character and bravery of WC Fry. As far as I know, they went on the information supplied by S/L Warne to Mr. Cowan. In my humble opinion, the Canadian Senators were in error with regard to WC Fry.

Some people have told me that they believe this unwarranted attack on him, left him angry and bitter. Is that the truth? I don't know. Some others will tell you different. But it did result in his writing an article that he handed off copies of to Alex Revell, Phil Markham, and A. E. Ferko. This was given to these gentleman on the condition that it not be released until after his death. It was published in Cross & Cockade International Volume 32, No. 1 Spring 2001, by Alex Revell.

William Mays Fry, MC, passed away in the hospital at Merton College in Blackheath, London on 4 August, 1992.

Regardless of his personal opinion of Billy Bishop, this man had the courage to climb into the cockpit of machines made of fabric and wood, fly into the sky in machines that today, would likely not be allowed to take off due to their lack of reliability. THAT is a hero in my book.

Wing Commander Fry on The Aerodrome.

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Honourary Canadian

Brought to you by: Billy Bishop, a REAL Canadian Hero.

Created: 22 May, 2002
Last updated: July 1, 2002, CANADA DAY!!!

©2002 Albert Lowe. All rights reserved.
Major Source: Above The Trenches by Shores, Franks and Guest, Published by Grub Street Publishers.
Secondary Source: Renowned Historian and Author, Alex Revell, not necessarily with his permission.
If you have any problems with my opinion, you should email me, Albert Lowe.
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