Raymond Collishaw

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Raymond Collishaw

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 21 jul 2011, 20:54

Raymond Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia on November 22, 1893. His father was an itinerant miner and had stopped his wanderings in Nanaimo to earn some money coal mining so he could continue to prospect in California. Ray dropped out of grade 8 at age 15 and his father got him a job as a cabin boy on a Canadian Fisheries Protection Service ship. Really he was a junior sailor as they had no need for a cabin boy. He was onboard the Alcedo when it sailed into the Arctic Circle in search of the Stefansson expedition. Unfortunately, for the expedition, they were too late to help the Karluk, it had been crushed by ice and some of the crew were dead. Collishaw applied for and received the British Polar Ribbon. It was not, as some reports have it, for sailing to Antarctica with Robert Scott. The furthest south he got was China. Later, he found out that he was not really eligible for the medal, and he had to remove it from his military tunics. It was a hard, but exciting life and one that taught you obedience to superior officers. He worked for seven years on the west coast, eventually rising to the post of First Officer on board the Fispa, a ship similar to the one shown below.
When WWI started he tried to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy, however, he heard nothing from them for some time. Having attended a flying meet at Lulu Island near Vancouver, and hearing that the Royal Naval Air Service was hiring, he decided to apply for them instead. He applied in Esquimalt, B.C. and then was sent to Ottawa, Ontario for a final interview. He was enrolled as a Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant and would become a full one upon completing a flying course. At his own expense! He then travelled to Toronto to attend the Curtis Flying School, the only flight training school in Canada at the time. The candidates waited a long time to get into the school, throughput was slow and the weather was getting cold and would soon curtail flying. Due to the destitute condition of many of the RNAS "students" the Royal Navy decided to give them basic naval training in Halifax and then ship them to England and have them do their flight training there. He did his basic training on the cruiser HMS Niobe until January, 1916. It was then that he boarded the White Star liner Adriatic for England with a bunch of other Canadians, including Lloyd Breadner, who was to become the RCAF's Air Chief-Marshal in WWII.

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