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clover4
04-09-2004, 03:14 PM
Billy Fiske - One Of the Few.

William Billy Meade Lindsly Fiske was born on 4th july 1911 in Brooklyn, New York. The son of a wealthy banking family whose ancestors had immigrated To America from Suffolk in the seventeenth century.Billy as everone called him attended school in Chicago until his family moved to France in 1924. Billy attended Trinity Hall,Cambridge in 1928 studying Economics and History.
An avid and accomplished sportsman He managed to steer into the world of Bobsledding,which incedidently originated in Albany,New York.
At the same time the sport was introduced in Switzerland. The first sleds had a piece of rope for steering and no proper brakes.The sleds were stopped with a common garden rake.
In 1928 at the age of sixteen Billy led a five man team by piloting a sled at the first ever bob sled event at the Olympic games on the Cresta run at St.Moritz, Switzerland where they took the gold medal for the united states of America.
In 1932 he carried the flag for America in the Lake Placid olympic games.Billy led a four man team which included olympic gold medallist
light heavyweight champion boxer Eddie Egan to another victory that year.
Billy was invited but declined to lead a team in the 1936 games.

In 1936 Billy and a friend Ted Ryan also a keen sportsman and ski enthusiast discovered to there delight that Colarado's Rock mountains were an ideal place for skiing.They started designing what they imagined would be the finest ski resort in the United States.They built a sixteen bedroom highland Bavarian style lodge.Now they had their sites set on the nearby Ashcroft valley and pondered over building a four mile tramway from the valley to the top of Mt.Haydens 13,500 ft peek.They invited the well known Swiss skier Andre Roch to help them on the project.
They spent 1936-37 scouting the area, although enchanted by the charms of Ashcroft, after seeing Aspen the Trio with help of local volunteer labour cleared a run at Aspen, which still bears Andre Rochs name.
The newly formed Aspen ski club raised enough funds to aquire a length of half-inch thick steel cable for a ski lift.A local hotel owner donated a Model A ford engine which was converted to power the lift.On 27th January 1938 the ski was was declared open.A tobaggan "boat" type lift that could transport three or four people to the top in less than three minutes for the price of 10 cents a ride, 50 cents for half the day or 75 cents for the full day.

Unfortunately with World War II breaking out their dream of developing the Ashcroft to Mt.Haydens ski lift never materialised.
Ascroft was offered the U.S army's elite 10th mountain division as a training ground, they were stationed there between August and september of 1942 before moving to a permanent camp at leadville 50 miles away.

Ted Ryan went to Europe to join the wartime effort withe the Office's of Strategic services.Billy went to London,England where he worked for a spell at Dillon, Reed and Co, the New York bankers.While he was in England he met his sweetheart Rose,the former countess of Warick and they were married in maidenhead later that year.
Billy took flying lessons at an aerodrome just outside London.Also a keen golfer and race car enthusiast, he was well know around Cambridge and earned a certain respect from fellow golfers from the Mildenhall golf club from the way he roared down winding and twisting country roads at high speed in his British Racing green, open top, supercharged 4.5 litre Bently while transporting them to the club.
Billy was recalled back to the main Office in New York early in 1939 just before England Declared war on Germany on September 3rd of that year. While he was in New York he met Mr.W.P.Clyde who was an RAF reservist and a member of the 601 Auxilary Air Force Squadron based at Tangmere aerodrome in West Sussex,South England.Mr Clyde talked Billy into going back with him the England and they sailed out of New York on August 30th on the ship Aquatania.

In Billy's diary he records that"I believe I can lay claim to being the first U.S citizen to join the RAF in England after the breakout of the hostilities."He also must have realised at the time the reguslations in the United States stated that"No person not a british citizen or a son of British citizens,could be eligible for any position whatsoever in the Air Force",because the U.S was considered neutral at that particualr time. Violaters faced a fine of 20,000 dollars, ten years in prison and could have lost their citizenship.Regardless he was determined to join the RAF.

Billy supposedly managed to aquire papers claiming his nationality was Canadian born of Canadian parents whether these rumours were true I suppose one will never really know,which incentally was the case for many of the pilots of Eagle squadrons (http://www.ww2wings.com/wings/britainraf/britainrafeaglesquadrons.shtml),three Squadrons on American pilots who assumingly went down the same path as Billy to join the RAF.
Even with that part worked out he was soon to find out that joining the RAF was harder than he first imagined. It was luck and knowing the right people that eventually lead hime to get and interview with a top RAF officer. Another record in his diary shows that he played a round of golf at Roehampton golf club prior the interview to give him a "healthy look."

He passed his interview and went on to train at a flight school at Yatesbury, Wiltshire. After a short period at Yatesbury he moved to RAF Brize Norton training school in Oxfordshire.
On april 12th 1940 he became Acting Pilot Officer Fiske and three months after that in July he was assigned to 601 Squadron at Tangmere. the Squad was apprehensive at first taking on this"untried american aventurer" it wasnt long before Billy showed his true colours of courage and flying skills was accepted. With determination he threw himself into training and on the 20th made two succesful operational take-offs in quick succession in Hurricane L1951.
He apparently was very popular and respected. One Squaron mate, Flight.Lt Archbald Hope, called Fiske"the best pilot I've ever known".
A radio commentator said in '42 that Billy Fiske, during his fleeting service with 601 had destroyed six enemy aircraft,the first one being a heinkel.Of all accounts he was in his element, he loved flying Hurricanes, with a full tank of gas and a top speed of 355mph it probably reminded him of the thrills he had while driving his beloved Bentley.
Tangmere was near the coast so it flew missions on a daily basis. On the 13th the Squadron were scrambled to intercept some incoming Ju-88's and officer fiske was credited with a kill.

Three days later on the 16th of August 1940 it was mid morning, the weather was slightly hazy but had a forecast of clear skies and sunny with temperatures above normal.
At 1200hrs radar picked up enemy aircraft on three fronts coming across the channel.The first heading towards the Thames Estuary, around 100+ Do17 bombers and Bf109's. A larger force was detected between Brighton and Folkestone while A third was detected heading Cherbourg towards Southhampton and porsmouth area.54 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires), 64 squadron kenley (Spitfires) and 56 North Weald (Hurricanes) were called up headed forcombat over the Thames Estuary. The formation approaching Brighton was larger than the one over the Thames.Fighter Command scrambled 32 Squadron Biggin Hill (Hurricanes) ,111 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes) and Squadron 266 (Spitfires).
The fighting from here was fierce and ruthless with bombers and fighters weaving this way and that,the sky was swarming with hundreds of black shapes.
Such action ofted accumalated in danger and this was no exception. Flight Lieutenant H.M.Ferris of Squadron 601 was killed instantly along with the brave crew of a Do17 bomber of KG 76 when their planes collided in a head on attack.
The Operation record Book of No 601 Squadron records that Billy took off in Hurricane MK I P3358 at 12.25pm with Squadron 601 and Squadron 43 who were also based at Tangmere. The large formation of JU87 stuka dive bombers were heading for Tangmere aerodrome. Squadron Leader Sir Archibald Hope led the squadron and they were ordered to fly CAP at 12,000ft over the Tangmere base.
The Junkers 87's were seen east of the base near Selsey Bill. When the Stukas started attacking Tangmere several fierce Dogfights took place, the Stukas were eventually chased out of Pagham harbour.

When some of the Hurricanes started to land back at Tangmere amidst the air raid, Billy Fiske's Hurricane was seen to glide over the boundary and land on its belly. The Operations Record book stated, "Pilot Officer Fiske was seen to land on the aerodrome and his aircraft immediately caught fire. He was taken from the machine but sustained severe burns...."

"I saw one of 601's Hurricanes lying on it's belly belching smoke on the airfield after coming in for its final approach, I taxied up to it and got out. There were two ambulance men there. They had got Billy Fiske out of the cockpit. They didn't know how to take off his parachute so I showed them. Billy was burnt about the hands and ankles. I told him, dont worry. You'll be alright...."
Flight lieutenant Sir Archibald Hope 601 squadron tangmere.

An unsung hero who treated a critically-injured American pilot as bombs exploded around them in a massive war-time raid on Tangmere airfield has talked about the incident - more that 60 years after it happened.
Dr Courtney Willey, now 91 years of age and living in quiet retirement on the west coast of Cumberland, is one of the dwindling number of people still living who were at RAF tangmere on the day that pilot Billy Fiske made a crash landing in his damaged fighter on the airfield, three miles from Chichester.
Fiske had earlier taken off with other pilots before a wave of German dive-bombers and fighters targeted the base, In august 1940.
"I went to the ambulance not knowing who it was, and found Fiske in there, very badly burned from the waist down,"said Dr Willey.
"He was literally charred, although he was concious.
It was about 20 minutes or half an hour before the ambulance could get him to hospital in Chichester.
To my mind, when I saw him there, he was obviously going to die, and sadly he died the following night."
A total of 17 people were killed during the raid, and there were a number of casualties.
Dr Willey was awarded the Military Cross for staying at his post during the bombing raid.
Chichester Observer 19 february 2004.

The funeral took place on 20th August 1940. As the coffin, covered with the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes headed towards Priory Church, Boxgrove in Sussex. The Central Band of the Royal Air Force played funeral marches. Overhead the Battle Of Britain raged on. The coffin was borne into the churchyard by six of Billy's comrades from Tangmere.

July the 4th 1941 American Independance Day. On this day a ceremony headed by Sir Archibald Sinclair, minister of air defence instigated by Prime Minister Winston Churchill placed a plaque in the crypt of St Pauls Cathedral, London in honour to the first American serving in the British Forces to die for England and for the freedom in the Second world War.
The inscription reads: PILOT OFFICER WILLIAM MEADE LINDSLEY FISKE III, ROYAL AIR FORCE, AN AMERICAN CITIZEN WHO DIED, THAT ENGLAND MIGHT LIVE, 18 AUGUST 1940.

on the 20th August 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a speech to parliment, in that speech he referred to the brave pilots fighting the Battle Of Britain.
"Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few"

http://server5.uploadit.org/files/seafire-amcnfrnd.jpg
My Little Friend from the painting by John Howard Worsley in dedication to Billy Fiske (http://www.warbirdart.demon.co.uk/index.html)

William Billy Fiske, Sportsman, Scholar, Fighter Pilot and a true gentleman to all accounts played his part against an oppression that he believed was wrong and with this unselfish act he gave his life, Billy was just 29 years young when he went to the great aerodrome in the sky.

[This message was edited by clover4 on Fri April 09 2004 at 02:26 PM.]

clover4
04-09-2004, 03:14 PM
Billy Fiske - One Of the Few.

William Billy Meade Lindsly Fiske was born on 4th july 1911 in Brooklyn, New York. The son of a wealthy banking family whose ancestors had immigrated To America from Suffolk in the seventeenth century.Billy as everone called him attended school in Chicago until his family moved to France in 1924. Billy attended Trinity Hall,Cambridge in 1928 studying Economics and History.
An avid and accomplished sportsman He managed to steer into the world of Bobsledding,which incedidently originated in Albany,New York.
At the same time the sport was introduced in Switzerland. The first sleds had a piece of rope for steering and no proper brakes.The sleds were stopped with a common garden rake.
In 1928 at the age of sixteen Billy led a five man team by piloting a sled at the first ever bob sled event at the Olympic games on the Cresta run at St.Moritz, Switzerland where they took the gold medal for the united states of America.
In 1932 he carried the flag for America in the Lake Placid olympic games.Billy led a four man team which included olympic gold medallist
light heavyweight champion boxer Eddie Egan to another victory that year.
Billy was invited but declined to lead a team in the 1936 games.

In 1936 Billy and a friend Ted Ryan also a keen sportsman and ski enthusiast discovered to there delight that Colarado's Rock mountains were an ideal place for skiing.They started designing what they imagined would be the finest ski resort in the United States.They built a sixteen bedroom highland Bavarian style lodge.Now they had their sites set on the nearby Ashcroft valley and pondered over building a four mile tramway from the valley to the top of Mt.Haydens 13,500 ft peek.They invited the well known Swiss skier Andre Roch to help them on the project.
They spent 1936-37 scouting the area, although enchanted by the charms of Ashcroft, after seeing Aspen the Trio with help of local volunteer labour cleared a run at Aspen, which still bears Andre Rochs name.
The newly formed Aspen ski club raised enough funds to aquire a length of half-inch thick steel cable for a ski lift.A local hotel owner donated a Model A ford engine which was converted to power the lift.On 27th January 1938 the ski was was declared open.A tobaggan "boat" type lift that could transport three or four people to the top in less than three minutes for the price of 10 cents a ride, 50 cents for half the day or 75 cents for the full day.

Unfortunately with World War II breaking out their dream of developing the Ashcroft to Mt.Haydens ski lift never materialised.
Ascroft was offered the U.S army's elite 10th mountain division as a training ground, they were stationed there between August and september of 1942 before moving to a permanent camp at leadville 50 miles away.

Ted Ryan went to Europe to join the wartime effort withe the Office's of Strategic services.Billy went to London,England where he worked for a spell at Dillon, Reed and Co, the New York bankers.While he was in England he met his sweetheart Rose,the former countess of Warick and they were married in maidenhead later that year.
Billy took flying lessons at an aerodrome just outside London.Also a keen golfer and race car enthusiast, he was well know around Cambridge and earned a certain respect from fellow golfers from the Mildenhall golf club from the way he roared down winding and twisting country roads at high speed in his British Racing green, open top, supercharged 4.5 litre Bently while transporting them to the club.
Billy was recalled back to the main Office in New York early in 1939 just before England Declared war on Germany on September 3rd of that year. While he was in New York he met Mr.W.P.Clyde who was an RAF reservist and a member of the 601 Auxilary Air Force Squadron based at Tangmere aerodrome in West Sussex,South England.Mr Clyde talked Billy into going back with him the England and they sailed out of New York on August 30th on the ship Aquatania.

In Billy's diary he records that"I believe I can lay claim to being the first U.S citizen to join the RAF in England after the breakout of the hostilities."He also must have realised at the time the reguslations in the United States stated that"No person not a british citizen or a son of British citizens,could be eligible for any position whatsoever in the Air Force",because the U.S was considered neutral at that particualr time. Violaters faced a fine of 20,000 dollars, ten years in prison and could have lost their citizenship.Regardless he was determined to join the RAF.

Billy supposedly managed to aquire papers claiming his nationality was Canadian born of Canadian parents whether these rumours were true I suppose one will never really know,which incentally was the case for many of the pilots of Eagle squadrons (http://www.ww2wings.com/wings/britainraf/britainrafeaglesquadrons.shtml),three Squadrons on American pilots who assumingly went down the same path as Billy to join the RAF.
Even with that part worked out he was soon to find out that joining the RAF was harder than he first imagined. It was luck and knowing the right people that eventually lead hime to get and interview with a top RAF officer. Another record in his diary shows that he played a round of golf at Roehampton golf club prior the interview to give him a "healthy look."

He passed his interview and went on to train at a flight school at Yatesbury, Wiltshire. After a short period at Yatesbury he moved to RAF Brize Norton training school in Oxfordshire.
On april 12th 1940 he became Acting Pilot Officer Fiske and three months after that in July he was assigned to 601 Squadron at Tangmere. the Squad was apprehensive at first taking on this"untried american aventurer" it wasnt long before Billy showed his true colours of courage and flying skills was accepted. With determination he threw himself into training and on the 20th made two succesful operational take-offs in quick succession in Hurricane L1951.
He apparently was very popular and respected. One Squaron mate, Flight.Lt Archbald Hope, called Fiske"the best pilot I've ever known".
A radio commentator said in '42 that Billy Fiske, during his fleeting service with 601 had destroyed six enemy aircraft,the first one being a heinkel.Of all accounts he was in his element, he loved flying Hurricanes, with a full tank of gas and a top speed of 355mph it probably reminded him of the thrills he had while driving his beloved Bentley.
Tangmere was near the coast so it flew missions on a daily basis. On the 13th the Squadron were scrambled to intercept some incoming Ju-88's and officer fiske was credited with a kill.

Three days later on the 16th of August 1940 it was mid morning, the weather was slightly hazy but had a forecast of clear skies and sunny with temperatures above normal.
At 1200hrs radar picked up enemy aircraft on three fronts coming across the channel.The first heading towards the Thames Estuary, around 100+ Do17 bombers and Bf109's. A larger force was detected between Brighton and Folkestone while A third was detected heading Cherbourg towards Southhampton and porsmouth area.54 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires), 64 squadron kenley (Spitfires) and 56 North Weald (Hurricanes) were called up headed forcombat over the Thames Estuary. The formation approaching Brighton was larger than the one over the Thames.Fighter Command scrambled 32 Squadron Biggin Hill (Hurricanes) ,111 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes) and Squadron 266 (Spitfires).
The fighting from here was fierce and ruthless with bombers and fighters weaving this way and that,the sky was swarming with hundreds of black shapes.
Such action ofted accumalated in danger and this was no exception. Flight Lieutenant H.M.Ferris of Squadron 601 was killed instantly along with the brave crew of a Do17 bomber of KG 76 when their planes collided in a head on attack.
The Operation record Book of No 601 Squadron records that Billy took off in Hurricane MK I P3358 at 12.25pm with Squadron 601 and Squadron 43 who were also based at Tangmere. The large formation of JU87 stuka dive bombers were heading for Tangmere aerodrome. Squadron Leader Sir Archibald Hope led the squadron and they were ordered to fly CAP at 12,000ft over the Tangmere base.
The Junkers 87's were seen east of the base near Selsey Bill. When the Stukas started attacking Tangmere several fierce Dogfights took place, the Stukas were eventually chased out of Pagham harbour.

When some of the Hurricanes started to land back at Tangmere amidst the air raid, Billy Fiske's Hurricane was seen to glide over the boundary and land on its belly. The Operations Record book stated, "Pilot Officer Fiske was seen to land on the aerodrome and his aircraft immediately caught fire. He was taken from the machine but sustained severe burns...."

"I saw one of 601's Hurricanes lying on it's belly belching smoke on the airfield after coming in for its final approach, I taxied up to it and got out. There were two ambulance men there. They had got Billy Fiske out of the cockpit. They didn't know how to take off his parachute so I showed them. Billy was burnt about the hands and ankles. I told him, dont worry. You'll be alright...."
Flight lieutenant Sir Archibald Hope 601 squadron tangmere.

An unsung hero who treated a critically-injured American pilot as bombs exploded around them in a massive war-time raid on Tangmere airfield has talked about the incident - more that 60 years after it happened.
Dr Courtney Willey, now 91 years of age and living in quiet retirement on the west coast of Cumberland, is one of the dwindling number of people still living who were at RAF tangmere on the day that pilot Billy Fiske made a crash landing in his damaged fighter on the airfield, three miles from Chichester.
Fiske had earlier taken off with other pilots before a wave of German dive-bombers and fighters targeted the base, In august 1940.
"I went to the ambulance not knowing who it was, and found Fiske in there, very badly burned from the waist down,"said Dr Willey.
"He was literally charred, although he was concious.
It was about 20 minutes or half an hour before the ambulance could get him to hospital in Chichester.
To my mind, when I saw him there, he was obviously going to die, and sadly he died the following night."
A total of 17 people were killed during the raid, and there were a number of casualties.
Dr Willey was awarded the Military Cross for staying at his post during the bombing raid.
Chichester Observer 19 february 2004.

The funeral took place on 20th August 1940. As the coffin, covered with the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes headed towards Priory Church, Boxgrove in Sussex. The Central Band of the Royal Air Force played funeral marches. Overhead the Battle Of Britain raged on. The coffin was borne into the churchyard by six of Billy's comrades from Tangmere.

July the 4th 1941 American Independance Day. On this day a ceremony headed by Sir Archibald Sinclair, minister of air defence instigated by Prime Minister Winston Churchill placed a plaque in the crypt of St Pauls Cathedral, London in honour to the first American serving in the British Forces to die for England and for the freedom in the Second world War.
The inscription reads: PILOT OFFICER WILLIAM MEADE LINDSLEY FISKE III, ROYAL AIR FORCE, AN AMERICAN CITIZEN WHO DIED, THAT ENGLAND MIGHT LIVE, 18 AUGUST 1940.

on the 20th August 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a speech to parliment, in that speech he referred to the brave pilots fighting the Battle Of Britain.
"Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few"

http://server5.uploadit.org/files/seafire-amcnfrnd.jpg
My Little Friend from the painting by John Howard Worsley in dedication to Billy Fiske (http://www.warbirdart.demon.co.uk/index.html)

William Billy Fiske, Sportsman, Scholar, Fighter Pilot and a true gentleman to all accounts played his part against an oppression that he believed was wrong and with this unselfish act he gave his life, Billy was just 29 years young when he went to the great aerodrome in the sky.

[This message was edited by clover4 on Fri April 09 2004 at 02:26 PM.]