Clive Robertson Caldwell

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Clive Robertson Caldwell, born in July 28, 1910 and dead in August 5, 1994, was the best Australian flying ace of World War II. Officially, he is credited  28.5 Aerial Victories in more than 300 operational missions. Addition to his official score, it has been awarded 6 other probable victories and another 15 damaged aircraft. 


Biography :  

After working for several years on a farm, Caldwell wanted to be a fighter pilot. With the outbreak of World War II, he volunteered for the Royal Australian Air Force. He was 30 years; too old to still be a fighter pilot. In order to be admitted Caldwell falsified his birth certificate and his passport.

In February 1940 he obtained his pilot's license. He was transferred to Britain to go there with a Spitfire fly and was stationed in April 1940 at Duxford Airfield. Three months later broke the Battle of Britain loose in full force.

During the Battle of Britain had to make Caldwell reconnaissance flights along the English coastline. Remarkably, he has come here little action; in a period of five months only once. In October, he saw a Dornier Do-17 bomber flying over Dover. Caldwell managed to bring down the unit through several bursts. It was his first victory. Shortly after the Battle of Britain was finally lost by Germany.

When Germany realized that the UK could not simply be conquered decided to conquer Italy with the help of North Africa. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia were British colonies. By conquering these colonies Germany hoped to lay oil imports from the UK lamb and gain control of the Mediterranean.

Caldwell was transferred in March 1941 to North Africa and was offered a new device: the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk. He was appointed lieutenant and became head of a squadron of thirty P-40's. The entire unit consisted of Polish pilots who volunteered were registered with the Royal Air Force to fight against the Germans.

With this squadron he had to give the allied ground troops air support, while fighting on the ground against the German and Italian armies. Caldwell quickly became an expert in bringing down the Junkers Ju 87 ( "Stuka") dive bombers bombarded the Allied ground forces. Within Caldwell had nine downed Stukas just a few months. He also destroyed four Italian Fiat fighters. Caldwell also successfully took part in the battles at Tobruk and El Alamein. Here he made his reconnaissance flights and bombarded with his P-40 German tanks and other ground vehicles. As thanks for his contribution to these battles he was awarded the Military Cross.

In December 1941 the German army desert was almost completely defeated and North Africa liberated for the most part. While the danger in Africa had had gone to the other side of the world created a new front: the Japanese air force had bombed the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. Japan was about to conquer all of Asia and Caldwell was transferred to Australia to defend the British colony from possible invasion.

The first seven months of his stay there was no direct war and Caldwell has not taken action. In June 1942 he made from Australia reconnaissance flights over the Indonesian archipelago, seeking Japanese ship movements which could prepare an invasion. Caldwell spent countless enemy troop movements in card, which he contributed to preventing an invasion of Australia by Japan.

It was occupied Dutch East Indies with its vast waters and a tricky area to check many inhabited and uninhabited islands. On August 28, Caldwell earned his first victory over a Japanese fighter Tony. During the war he would shoot another 18 planes over the Dutch East Indies: most were Zero and Tony-hunters.

In January 1945 attacked US troops from Australia Dutch East Indies inside. Caldwell supported from a base on the island of Java already liberated American troops in their advance through South East Asia. He had to shoot more Japanese soldiers with his plane who fought against US troops. Caldwell did not feel like to kill infantrymen from the air, so he refused this order. Together with a group of older fighter pilots he led a major strike of Australian fighter pilots, the Morotaimuiterij. The Australian Air Force was not served by this protest and Caldwell was fired on the spot. A few months later ended the war.

After the war, Caldwell began a career as a clothing importer in Sydney. He managed to build a large successful clothing trade. He died of natural causes in 1994.

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