For Our Tomorrow

Pilot Officer Fiske had been a skilful and popular pilot, and his death came as a shock. His flight commander, Flight Lieutenant Sir Archibald Hope, recorded landing next to his Hurricane: Fragment of Plt Off Fiske's parachute

I taxied up to it and got out. There were two ambulancemen there. They had got Billy Fiske out of the cockpit. They didn’t know how to take off his parachute so I showed them. Billy was burnt about the hands and ankles. I told him ‘Don’t worry. You’ll be alright…’ Our adjutant went to see him in hospital at Chichester that night. Billy was sitting up in bed, perky as hell. The next thing we heard he was dead. Died of shock.

Unquestionably Billy Fiske was the best pilot I’ve ever known. It was unbelievable how good he was. He Condolence letter to Plt Off Fiske's widow, Mrs Rose Fiske, 26 August 1940 picked up so fast it wasn’t true. He’d flown a bit before, but he was a natural as a fighter pilot. He was so terribly nice and extraordinarily modest, and fitted into the squadron very well.

Another colleague, Flying Officer Tom Waterlow, would recall:

I shall always look back on the time that Billy was with us as one when the Squadron was at its peak, and covered itself in glory. Billy played a great part well in that time and always kept everyone’s spirits at their best.

Condolence letter to Mrs Rose Fiske from Flt Lt Tom Waterlow, Adjutant of No.601 Squadron, 23 August 1940

On 4 July, 1941, the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, unveiled a plaque in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral to Fiske: “An American Citizen, Who Died That England Might Live”.

In his speech, Sinclair said:

Here was a young man for whom life held much. Under no kind of compulsion he came to fight for Britain. He came, and he fought, and he died.