Raymond Collishaw: A hero to be remembered

11 November 2020

Lest We Forget.

We would like to thank and remember all of our past and present Armed Forces, who sacrificed so much for our freedom. On this day of remembrance, we would also like to pay a special tribute to one of those heroes, specifically, our terminal namesake, Raymond Collishaw.

The Nanaimo Airport Terminal Building was named in honor of World War 1 flying Ace Air Vice Marshall Raymond Collishaw in October of 1999. Our namesake was a Vancouver Island resident born in Nanaimo on November 22, 1893.  He had an illustrious flying career and was the second-highest scoring Ace of World War One.

Collishaw started his career in the Royal Navy Air Service. He joined up when war broke out in Europe and was the commander of the famous all Canadian ‘Black Flight’ squadron. He flew the famous Sopwith triplane named ‘Black Maria’. This was the era of straight forward air dueling where luck and skill won the day. Collishaw was known for his incredible flying abilities, cheerful disposition and was second only to the famous Billy Bishop in the number of aircraft victories with 60, by the end of WWI.

Collishaw had many achievements including the highest number of victories flying the Sopwith Triplane. He would go on to be the commander of three squadrons before the first world war was over.  He received numerous medals and commendations including the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Order with a bar, and the Distinguished Flying cross. Collishaw  finished the war flying bombing raids from France to Germany.

When the war ended, Collishaw elected to remain in the air service, initially serving in Russia and finally attaining the rank of Air Vice-Marshall following distinguished service during the Second World War in the Western Desert.

Collishaw retired from the RAF in July 1943 and settled in Vancouver with his family.

The CBC archives have an excellent documentary interviewing Vice Marshall Raymond Collishaw in 1969 which can be seen here.