FISKE, William Mead Lindsley


rank: P/O
status: kia
airforce: RAF    (no: 78092 )
born: New York USA

added by: kurtis

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Bio / Text:

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Died of wounds (burns), August 17, 1940 - status 'kia' used as he died of wounds sustained in combat a day earlier. As noted on Wikipedia, the 601 Squadron was initially dubbed the "millionaires" squadron, and it's members were known to play polo on motorbikes, disregard standard military dress, and, some even had their own private aircraft. Due to attrition during the war, it's ranks were eventually filled by fliers from all over the commonwealth. Fiske however, was able to join much earlier using a forged Canadian passport.

Fiske was an Olympic Bobsledder winning gold in 1928 and 1932 (Lake Placid), and was instrumental in the start of downhill skiing in Aspen Colorado. Full name, William Meade Lindsey "Billy" Fiske III. An exceptional golfer whose transit between UK golf courses was a Bentley motorcar travelling at speed. Having studied in England (Trinity College Cambridge) and both worked (banking) and participated as an international competitor in sports and motor racing, he may have been "invited" to join the 601 in its early days. There is more information on the right in various links.

According to the St. Paul's Church article on the right; "At just 13, Fiske moved to France where he discovered the sport of bobsleigh and within three years he was driving the USA team, at that that time made up of five men, to victory at the 1928 St Moritz Winter Olympics. He would remain the youngest Winter Olympic champion for another 60 years."

For some reason, a federal Canadian government link on the right puts him in the Canadian list of pilots for the Battle of Britain. Neither Wikipedia nor (Battle of Britain London Monument) list him as Canadian, neither does the youtube video, and he wasn't. As one of the first Americans (and the first to die from battle), he had passed himself off as Canadian with a forged passport in order to join the RAF? There is some speculation he destroyed (or caused the destruction of) one Ju88 (claimed). He met his demise from another on a separate mission some days later.

After being hit and burned, he nursed his burning Hurricane aircraft back to the airfield, and, was removed (his aircraft blew up afterwards) but died the next day due to his burns and injuries despite all efforts to save him. His operational career began in July and ended in mid August after several sorties. As the youtube video suggest, he was a daredevil and loved the speed and adrenalin of the Bobsled, and subsequently, fighter aircraft.


Squadrons add
RAF 601 1940-08-17


none provided


Comments / Questions:

by: kurtis Canadian Status? 2015-09-17 17:03:18

Can anyone resolve if this pilot actually had Canadian citizenship when allowed to join the RAF, or, exactly under what terms he was allowed to join? It's not clear at least from online research what paperwork was completed or not?

by: kurtis forged passport? 2017-09-04 08:34:45

Some online sources indicate a forged passport, however, there may have been other aspects to his joining the RAF. Apparently, he did leave a diary.