Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Collishaw, Raymond (1893–1976)

Canadian fighter pilot and senior Royal Air Force officer who took command of 14 Group, Fighter Command in 1942. Born on 22 November 1893 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Raymond Collishaw became a seaman in the Canadian Fisheries Protection Service after leaving school and then joined the Royal Naval Air Service in January 1916. After training, he was assigned to Number 3 Wing, a long-range bomber unit in France. In February 1917, he was posted to Number 3 (Naval) Squadron and began his successful career as a fighter pilot. He moved to Number 10 (Naval) Squadron in April, flying Sopwith Triplanes, and brought his personal score of enemy aircraft shot down to 38 by 28 July, when he returned to Canada on leave. He went back to France to command Number 13 (Naval) Squadron and was credited with 59 enemy aircraft shot down by the end of World War I.

Collishaw remained with the new Royal Air Force after the war. He saw action in south Russia in 1919, then served in a variety of home and overseas stations in the years before World War II. In 1940, he was in command of 202 Group, the Royal Air Force units in the western desert of Egypt, when war with Italy began on 10 June. Collishaw's theater commander, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore, ordered him to keep his aggressive tendencies in check, largely because of immediate difficulties of supply. But as reinforcements arrived, Collishaw was able to extend air operations against the Italians.

In December 1940, preparations began for a full-scale land offensive into Libya. Collishaw's air units commenced a wide-ranging offensive to set the stage and provided close support for Lieutenant General Sir Richard O'Connor's spectacularly successful advance and destruction of Italian forces under Marshal Rodolfo Graziani. This success was quickly reversed as the British sent troops and aircraft to Greece and German forces under Generalleutnant (U.S. equiv. major general) Erwin Rommel commenced operations in Africa. Collishaw's air forces provided support as the British retreated and then again stabilized their situation on the Egyptian border.

Collishaw returned to Britain on the staff of Headquarters, Fighter Command in August 1941, then took command of 14 Group, Fighter Command on 21 March 1942. He retired as an air vice marshal in 1943 and remained in England until the end of the war, when he returned to Vancouver. In Canada, he set up several very successful mining-exploration operations. Collishaw died in West Vancouver on 28 September 1976.

Paul E. Fontenoy


Further Reading
Collishaw, Raymond. Air Command, a Fighter Pilot's Story. London: W. Kimber, 1973.; Playfair, I. S. O., et al. The Mediterranean and Middle East. Vols. 1–3. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1954–1960.; Richards, Denis, and Hilary St. G. Saunders. Royal Air Force, 1939–1945. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1953–1954.
 

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