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Raymond Collishaw, WWI flying ace

The Story

Air battles in the First World War were "straightforward dueling" which the "luckiest man won," says retired Vice Air-Marshal Raymond Collishaw. And he should know: he was a pilot and commander of the famed "Black Flight" squadron during the war and is credited with 60 victories. In this 1969 episode of the CBC television show Telescope, Collishaw reflects on his experiences, with additional commentary by fellow flying aces Gerry Nash, Mel Alexander, and Nick Carter.

Broadcast Medium: Television
Program: Telescope
Host: Fletcher Markle
Guests: Raymond Collishaw, Mel Alexander, Gerry Nash, Nick Carter
Broadcast Date: July 10, 1969
Duration: 21:32
Photo Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-002788

Did You know?

• Raymond Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, B.C. on Nov. 22, 1893, and died in West Vancouver at 94. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1915, and remained with the newly-formed RAF after the First World War, commanding the RAF forces in Egypt during the Second World War until 1941. He served two more years, retiring in 1943 with the rank of air vice-marshal.

• Collishaw's squadron was known as the Black Flight because the name of each member's plane began with the word Black. His own was the Black Maria. 

• Gerry Nash was born in Saltfleet, Ont. in 1896, and died in Welland, Ont. aged 80. He was shot down in June 1917 and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner. He flew a Sopwith Triplane called Black Sheep in the Black Flight. He is credited with six "victories" (downed enemy planes) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).

• William "Mel" Alexander was born in Toronto, Ont. in 1897, and died in 1988. He flew the Black Prince in the Black Flight, was credited with 22 victories, and was awarded the DSC.

• Alfred Williams "Nick" Carter was born Apr. 29, 1894 in Calgary and died in Vancouver at 92. Credited with 17 victories, he was a recipient of the DSC, and retired as an air vice-marshal.


The First World War: Canada Remembers more