Remembering Raymond Collishaw
During the First World War, the all-Canadian “B” Flight of No. 10 Naval Squadron, led by Flight Commander Raymond Collishaw, consisted of five black Sopwith Triplanes. Between June 1st and July 28th 1917, the formidable “Black Flight” shot down 87 enemy aircraft and was one of the most successful units of the war. It consisted of:
- Collishaw’s Black Maria
- Ellis Vair Reid’s Black Roger
- John E. Sharman’s Black Death
- W. Melville Alexander’s Black Prince
- Gerald Ewart Nash’s Black Sheep
In the summer of 1917 the “Black Flight” quickly earned such a reputation that the German high command gave Jasta 11 orders to destroy them. On June 26th, 1917, Lieutenant Karl Allmenroder, a 30-victory ace and Manfred von Richthofen’s deputy commander of Jasta 11, scored the only air victory against the Black Flight, shooting down and capturing Nash.
On June 28th, the “Black Flight” again met the Red Baron’s “Flying Circus” where Allmenroder was shot down and killed by Collishaw in the ensuing battle. For a month the “Black Flight” thrashed the Jastas which had dominated the skies for so long. On July 6, Richtofen was wounded and shot down by an observer in a FE2d being escorted by Collishaw and his flight.
In addition to Nash’s capture, the Black Flight suffered two more losses; Sharman on July 22nd and Reid on July 28th. Both were killed by anti-aircraft fire. In late July, No. 10 Naval Squadron started re-equipping with Sopwith Camels, bringing to an end the exploits of the “Black Flight”.