Raymond Collishaw (born in Nanaimo, Canada, on November 22 1893) is a Canadian fighter pilot. Officially credited with 68 victories, he is the second highest scoring Canadian pilot of the Weltkrieg and an important member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Raymond Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, on 22 November 1893. In 1908, at the age of 15, he joined the Canadian Fisheries Protection Services as a cabin boy.
During the Weltkrieg
When war broke out in 1914, Collishaw applied to the Royal Canadian Navy without success and for this reason he crossed the Atlantic at his own expense to join the Royal Navy in England. By 1915 he had worked his way up to first officer and toward the end of 1915 he joined the Royal Naval Air Service.
He qualified as a pilot by January 1916, when he was appointed as a probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant, and spent the next eight months flying naval patrols along the Channel, or spotting for navy guns off Dunkirk. In late August he was transferred to Number 3 Wing of the R.N.A.S. that was billeted at Ochey, a short distance behind the Allied trenches. Here he began to fly Sopwith 1Â½ Strutters and on October 12 he scored his first victory. In February 1917 Collishaw was posted to No. 3 Naval Squadron, which was operating with the British Army near the Cambrai front. During his two months there, Collishaw was employed as escort to the Corps Squadron bombing planes, downing one German machine in the process. In April he returned to the coast, being transferred to No. 10 Naval Squadron, engaging in mainly coastal patrols. During this period Collishaw conceived the idea of painting his flight of triplanes midnight black and became the commander of the so-called 'Black Flight'. On July 6 197 he was the first Commonwealth pilot to claim six victories in one day.
In August, Collishaw returned to Canada for two months leave, the British Empire's second-highest scoring living ace. He was virtually unknown, in stark contrast to the grand reception given to the top-scoring living ace, Billy Bishop, when he returned on leave at about the same time. At this point, he had been awarded two British decorations during the summer: the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. Returning to the war in late November, he was given command of No. 13 Naval Squadron, which was operating from Dunkirk, doing escort duty with the Channel Patrol.
On 23 January 1918, Collishaw returned to the embattled area of the Western Front to command of No. 3 Naval Squadron, which were equipped with the more deadly British Sopwith Camel fighters. On 1 April, the RNAS and the RFC merged and 3 Naval became No. 203 Squadron Royal Air Force. Collishaw remained in command with the new rank of Major and in August 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, followed a month later by a bar to his Distinguished Service Order.
On October 1 Collishaw was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and he was again taken out of the line and sent to England where, with Billy Bishop, Andy McKeever and other Canadian airmen, plans were being made for a Royal Canadian Air Force. He was no longer involved in aerial combat anymore, but by the end of the war he had claimed 68 air victories, including eight balloons.
After the war
At the end of the war Collishaw left active service and returned to Canada: however, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1925 when the English Royal Family went into exile after the British Revolution. Since then he had been raised to the rank of Wing Commander and he has been involved in training new pilots and teaching fighting tactics for the Royal Canadian Air Force.