Group Captain Clive Robertson Caldwell

Service number 402107
Ranks Held Acting Flight Lieutenant, Flight Lieutenant, Group Captain
Birth Date 28 July 1911
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Lewisham
Death Date 05 August 1994
Death Place Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Final Rank Group Captain
Service Royal Australian Air Force
  • No. 1 Wing
  • No. 250 Squadron (RAF)
Conflict/Operation Second World War, 1939-1945
Gazettes Published in London Gazette in 1943-10-19
Published in London Gazette in 1941-12-26
Published in London Gazette in 1941-12-26
Published in London Gazette in 1942-08-04
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1943-10-21
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1944-11-23

Clive Caldwell was born in Sydney on 28 July 1911. He began his flying career in 1938 when he joined the Aero Club of New South Wales. Nevertheless, by the time the Second World War began he had logged only 11 hours of solo flying. He was 29 years old when he joined the Empire Air Training Scheme, completing the entire course in Australia and graduating as a pilot in January 1941.

Caldwell was sent to the Middle East, posted to No. 250 Squadron, RAF. The squadron flew Tomahawks and in late June Caldwell scored his first victory, against a BF 109. After that his score rose quickly and he became known for practicing gunnery against the shadow of his own aircraft over the desert.

When his score had reached 18 enemy aircraft, Caldwell was transferred to No. 112 Squadron, RAF as commanding officer. By the time he joined them, the squadron was equipped with Kittyhawks; and not long after the squadron began to convert to a fighter-bomber role. But before the conversion was complete, Caldwell was on his way to Australia. With Japan having entered the war, experienced airmen were needed at home. Before he left, Caldwell - who had served with many Polish airmen in RAF squadrons - was awarded the Polish Cross of Valour.

Caldwell was made Wing Leader of No. 1 Fighter Wing, which comprised three Spitfire squadrons. There he emphasised the importance of gunnery. The wing flew operations over northern Australia and was involved in the defence of Darwin. By June 1942 he was a group captain in command of No. 1 Fighter Wing; in August, having raised his tally to 28.5, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and appointed Chief Flying Instructor at an operational training unit.

In May 1944 Caldwell returned to an operational posting, being appointed Wing Leader of No. 80 Fighter Wing. The unit was based in Morotai but was employed in a ground-attack rather than a fighter role. For Caldwell and other fighter pilots, this meant the chance to increase his score had passed. By the end of 1944, having been left out of the main battle, RAAF pilots in the Pacific were aggrieved at having to fly dangerous - but in their eyes - unimportant operations against heavily defended ground targets. With nothing having been done to meet the pilots' concerns, Caldwell and other senior officers resigned in protest. An investigation resulted in two senior officers being relieved of their appointments. Caldwell and the other officers that had resigned were cleared and each was reinstated.

After the war Caldwell went into business. His effectiveness as a fighter pilot had earned him the nickname "Killer". Though the name stuck, it brought him no pleasure. Caldwell was the highest scoring RAAF pilot of the Second World War. He died on 5 August 1994 and was cremated.



Date of birth 28 July 1911 Lewisham, NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 27 May 1940 Joined RAAF.
Other 1941-01 Served in the Middle East with No 250 Squadron RAF.
Other 29 August 1941 Wounded in action.
Date promoted 1941-11 Flight commander.
Other 05 December 1941 Shot down five Ju 87s in a single engagement.
Date of honour or award 26 December 1941 Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar simultaneously.
Date promoted 1942-01 Appointed squadron leader and took command of No 112 Squadron RAF flying Kittyhawks.
Date promoted 1942-06 Appointed group captain and command of No 1 Fighter Wing based in Darwin.
Date of honour or award 02 August 1942 Polish Croix Des Valliants.
Other 1943-08 Left No 1 Fighter Wing based in Darwin.
Date of honour or award 14 October 1943 Distinguished Service Order.
Other 1944-05 Returned to operational duties commanding No 80 Wing out of Darwin and Morotai. No 80 Wing was confined to strafing and bombing ground targets.
Other 1945-04 In the 'Morotai mutiny' Caldwell and seven other officers tendered their resignations in protest against the RAAF's role in the latter stages of the war.
Date of discharge 05 March 1946 Caldwell resigned from the RAAF.
Date of death 05 August 1994