William Avery "Billy" Bishop was born February 8, 1894, in Owen Sound, Ontario. William was the middle child of three. William had a tough life at school. William had a slight lisp and many people used to make fun of him for it. However he did not tolerate this for long. He never showed fear towards anyone who made fun or joked about him.
His younger sister, Louie, encouraged William to do better at what ever he did. The two were very close friends as well. Sometimes William would pay his sister money so he could take her friends out on dates. This is how he met his future wife Margaret Burden.
In 1911, when William was age 17, his parents sent him away to Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. He was not very well educated and found the entrance exam to be hard, despite the aid of a tutor.
William failed his first year and was allowed back, but only if he would stay for an extra year. At the end of his second year he passed with good marks. In the third year he was caught using a cheat sheet on his final exam. Expulsion was delayed until the end of the summer, but the beginning of the war eliminated this problem since almost every body at the College would have to go to war.
Due to his excellence on a horse and his military education, he was soon commissioned to the Mississauga Horse's of Toronto, a cavalry of the 2nd Canadian Division.
Before leaving to participate in the war, Bishop was hospitalized with pneumonia. Lucky for him he was sick because attempts by his cavalry to charge the trenches proved disastrous. The trenches were guarded by machine guns and the cavalrymen had no chance.
Bishop was later assigned to the 14th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, in London, Ontario. On the eve of leaving for battle, William proposed to his girlfriend Margaret. The cattle ship, Caledonia, would bring the 14th Battalion and their horses to England. Ahead of them were two weeks in the North Atlantic with stormy weather, 700 seasick horses, 700 seasick men, and German U-Boats.