A Vision So Noble

Lew Bishop writes home

Flying Tigers: Lewis Bishop: Escape From Hell
Escape From Hell: An AVG Flying Tiger's Journey

(Lewis Bishop & Shiela Irwin)

Lew Bishop's daughter has published his story of his shoot-down, capture and escape, and filled it out with an account of how he came to join the AVG. It's available at Amazon.com in hardcover and as an ebook.

The letter below was posted on the Delphi forum by Clint Dygert, a cousin of the AVG pilot. Lewis Bishop was shot down over Vietnam in May 1942 and spent most of the war in a prison camp in China; in 1945, he escaped from the train that was moving him to Manchuria, and he made his way back to Kunming. The letter would have been posted from Mingaladon Aerodrome near Rangoon, two days before the Pacific War began, but may well have been written earlier at Toungoo. The text is copyright by the Bishop family. I've corrected a few misspellings. -- Daniel Ford

Kunming, Yunnan China

Dec. 6, 1941

Dearest folks at home,

I suppose by now you are all wondering how everything is with me out in this section of the world. So far everything is fine and I like my new job fine. I have been here since the 12th of November, that is in Burma, and have enjoyed it O.K. It is a lot better than I really expected, except that we pay $40 a month for our food which could be less.

I've received some letters from [his wife] Marie since my arrival and on the 2nd of December I received the cablegram announcing [his daughter] Sheila Marie's arrival. It took the cablegram eight days to reach me. I am very happy as both are fine. I am looking forward to receiving a letter shortly now with a picture of Marie and the baby. I received one letter from [his sister] Alice mailed sometime in September and it pleased me immensely to know that you were not all too much worried about my coming out here. As I said before in my last letter to you before I left, I chose this in preference to going out into the Atlantic or up in Iceland. We expect to go to the above address in China but don't know when. Probably by the time you receive this letter I will be there, so address my letters to that addess.

The climate here is not too hot during the day. I've seen it hotter in the States around home during the summer than it has been out here. We secure about 11:30 each morning for the day and the rest of the day is for what ever we wish to do. There is a nearby town, but not much to speak of. Its a typical Burmese town and not too clean.

I'm mighty glad to hear in Marie's last letter mailed Nov. 12, that you were feeling better then and I'm sure you are considerably better now. Please don't worry about me out here or worry too much about what you read in the papers.

What seems to be the local news around home and DeKalb [Junction, New York] these days? I suppose the Army has got a lot of the local young fellows in the draft. Do Orrin and Ethel hear from Lloyd and Lyle often and how are they getting along? I'd like to send you and everyone something for Christmas from here but it costs so much and I'm afraid it might not reach there. However I hope to buy and bring some articles back with me when I come. I'm also hoping to continue on around the world and return by way of Capetown, South Africa, and across South America and up that way. It will be just as cheap and a lot sooner. Hope everyone of the family is well and say "hello" for me whenever you see them again.

It took us 50 days to reach Rangoon, Burma, from the time we left California. However we spent a lot of time in the Dutch East Indies and Singapore. It was an interesting voyage and I enjoyed it all the way. However, I don't think I'd care to live out here for any length of time. It's quite educational to get around in other parts of the world and see just how other races of people live.

Well it's getting near lunchtime and I also want to mail this letter before mail closes. Write when you can and although it will be a little late, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very prosperous and happy New Year. Give my love to all and tell them everything is fine with me out here. Write when you can and above all please don't worry about me out here.

Your loving son, LEWIS

P.S. Mail my letters to Box 104 Kunming, Yunnan, China, as I expect to be gone from here in Burma by the time you receive this letter. d

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

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