This page is dedicated to the memory of 2nd Lieutenant William Bishop and Lieutenant Douglas Mackintosh of 55 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps.
In 1917, 2nd Lieutenant William Bishop and Lieutenant Douglas Mackintosh took off from their airfield at Boisdinghem in northern France. They were part of a formation of 12 Airco DH4 aircraft from 55 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and were tasked with bombing the German airfield in Marcke, close to Kortrijk in Belgium.
They were last seen crossing the front line north of Ypres, somehow they had became separated from the rest of the formation, probably due to fog. Their lone aircraft was attacked by seven German fighters close to Meulebeke and after a heroic struggle of around 20 minutes, according to eyewitnesses, the aircraft caught fire and crashed. Both Bishop and Mackintosh were killed.
The German pilot who claimed the victory, Ltn der Reserve Hans Klein, visited the crash site and was heard to say in bad French, "What a pity such heroes should have to die! They could have escaped, but preferred to fight to the finish. Never have I seen such gallant resistance before".
The two men were given a military funeral by the Germans and two local girls, Carola and Paula Vanderougstraete tended their graves for a number of years. After the war, the two girls traced the Bishop and Mackintosh families through the War Office and returned their personal effects to them. They also hosted the airmens relatives in their home when they visited the graves of their loved ones in Belgium.
In the 1920's, William and Douglas were moved from Meulebeke to Harelbeke New British Cemetery near Kortrijk.
"The unwritten story of a great air fight" - The Imperial War Museum "Lives of the first World War" blog