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Will O'Brien

10 RNAS Squadron - Black Flight

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I have recently come across a reference to this Squadron as being described as 'The most celebrated wartime fighter unit of the RNAS'..................Other than they flew Sopwith Triplanes, partially painted black & the majority of the pilots were Canadian I have been unable to find very few facts....................Can any of the Pals shed any light on this Squadron?

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The Black Flight consisted of pilots who had formerly served with 3 Naval Wing, and were for the most part Canadians. The original members of the flight were Raymond Collishaw,DSO & bar,OBE,DSC,DFC (61 victories)in "Black Maria": William Alexander,DSC (23 victories) in "Black Prince"; Ellis Reid,DSC (19 victories)in "Black Roger"; John Sharman,DSC & bar (8 victories) in "Black Death"; and Gerald Nash,DSC (6 victories) in "Black Sheep".

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Terry.........Many thanks for that............I'm sure I've seen Collishaw's name mentioned on another thread..........me thinks it's time for a quick search......... 61 Victories........very impressive :)

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Just a few corrections here, the original members of the Black Flight were:

Raymond Collishaw, ex 3 Wing and 3 Squadron RNAS, 26 victories while leading the Black Flight.

William Alexander, ex 3 Wing, 11 victories whilst in Black Flight.

John Sharman, ex 3 Wing, no victories whilst with the Black Flight, moved to another flight after just a few days.

Ellis Reid, ex 3 Wing, 19 victories.

Gerald Nash, NOT ex 3 Wing, 6 victories with the Black Flight.

Desmond Fitzgibbon replaced Sharman, he was also ex 3 Wing, 5 victories with the Black Flight - as far as is known, did not have a "Black" named triplane. He was also not Canadian which probably explains why he has never been regarded as a member of the flight.

'The most celebrated wartime fighter unit of the RNAS'

This is probably more due to Collishaw's hype than fact. Dallas in Naval 1 and Little, Booker & Co. in Naval 8 had similarly impressive results.

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Mike............Many thanks............I see that my recollection of seeing Collishaw's name in a previous thread was down to you also :D ........Your entry in 'Who's the Greatest Fight Pilot' thread...................I guess then from your comments that the reputation of 'Black Flight' was mainly due to Collishaw

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S.F. Wise, "Canadia Airmen and the First World War" describes the beginnings of this squadron liie this:

"Naval Ten was formed at St Pol (Dunkirk) on 12 February and was shortly after equipped with Sopwith Triplanes. Its original pilots were considered unready for action, however, so in the spring it was restaffed with seasoned veterans, almost all of whom were Canadians. Eight were posted in from Naval Three with the others coming from various sources.

. . .

Aside from Collishaw, the other Canadians were W.M. Alexander and K.G. Boyd, both of Toronto, AC. Dissette of Vancouver (KIA 2 June 1917),

J.H. Keens (WIA 7 June 1917), P.G. McNeil (kIA 3 June 1917),

E.V. Reid (KIA 28 July 1917), and Q.S. Shirriff, all of Toronto,

G.E. Nash of Stoney Creek, Ont. (POW 25 June 1917),

J.A. Page of Brockville, Ont. (KIA 22 July 1917),

L.H. Parker of Leeds Village, Que. (KtA 14 June 1917),

C.E. Pattison of Winona, Ont. (WIA 20 May 1917),

and J.E. Sharman of Oak Lake, Man. (KIA 22 July 1917)."

The author does not name the two non-Canadian pilots on strength when the squadron joined II Brigade in mid-May, 1917.

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James.........Thanks for the additional info

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Will,

at the risk of offending Canadian members, Collishaw was a very effective self-publicist, in modern parlance he could "talk the talk" and "walk the walk".

An intensely egotistical man he was a good leader, but was regarded as personally reckless - in his own fights he would simply charge straight in, usually head-on. This resulted in his being shot down twice during his spell with Naval 10, he was obviously very lucky to survive one of these incidents! In his memoirs, his CO reported that Collishaw usually returned from each fight with his machine badly shot about.

His auto-biography "Air Command" is a very unreliable source, having him score victories on days when he wasn't flying - a bit like his log-book in that respect! Stories of the exploits of Collishaw and the Black Flight have appeared in many books and journals including Cross & Cockade USA - unfortunately most of these "stories" are also hyped up to the eyeballs! I have made an extensive study of Naval 10 for a forthcoming book to be published by Schiffers (hopefully this year), which I believe presents a much more dispassionate view of the exploits of the Black Flight - one thing you have to remember, if all the aces were in one flight, what effect did that have on the other two flights? Think about it!

The Naval 10 Black Flight was not the first (or the last). Collishaw flew in Robin Mack's flight in Naval 3, the Sopwith Pup aircraft being named Black Tulip, Black Arrow, Black Bess, Black Prince and (of course) Black Maria. After Naval 10, Collishaw spent a short time at the Seaplane Defence Squadron, the Camels known from photographs being Black Maria and Black Prince.

Collishaw then moved on to be CO of 203 Squadron RAF, and tended to ignore the "suggestion" that Commanding officers remain deskbound. claiming another 19 victories.

As if that wasn't enough, he led 47 squadron RAF in the Russian intervention claiming at least one more.

Mike

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Mike

Very interesting stuff indeed, Collishaw seems a fascinating character indeed........It seems that with all truly excellent fighter pilots there is always some facet of their character or personality which is ever so slightly skewed or 'not quite normal'

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Here is a CEF Study Group recommended website which may be of interest to you ... Borden Battery

Raymond Collishaw - World War I Fighter Ace Nov 2005

A simple website with a short overview history of a Canadian fighter pilot. Collishaw flew "Black Maria" a Sopwith Triplane from "Black Flight" of 10 Naval RNAS. He remained with the RAF after the Great War, was active in the Second World War with the RAF and finally retired again to Canada.

http://www.constable.ca/colishaw.htm

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Leslie Hunter Parker is commemorated on the flying services memorial in Arras as is his cousin CB Whyte ( 98 sqn RAF). Does anyone have any detailed information regarding LH Parker's service? I know quite a lot about CB Whyte's service from his Diary but nothing of Sub Lt. Parker.

Thanks

Scott Whyte

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FSL Leslie Hunter Parker

Born 8th December 1895, from Leeds Village, Quebec

Joined the RNAS on 16th December 1915

Under instruction at Chingford from 16th December 1915

Under instruction at Cranwell from 26th April 1916

Under instruction at Eastchurch from 18th June 1916

No.3 Wing from 3rd July 1916

Dunkerque on 23rd April 1917

No.10 Squadron from 6th May 1917 to 14th June 1917 when shot down and killed*.

Two victories with No.10 squadron:-

25/5/17 Scout 1 5 miles off Ostende 19.45 Out of Control

3/6/17 Albatross Scout Ypres-Courtrai 18.00 Destroyed

* Flying in Sharman's C Flight in Triplane N5470. 6 Albatross scouts encountered over Zonnebeke at 19.20. Believed to have been shot down by Vzfw Krebs of Jasta 6.

There is a photo of Parker at No.3 Wing in my Naval 10 book.

Regaqrds,

Mike

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