Clive Robertson Caldwell was born in Lewisham, Sydney on the 28th of July, 1911. Pre war he trained for his civil pilot's licence whilst a member of the Royal Aero Club. He joined the RAAF at the beginning of the war in 1939 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in 1940. As he was destined to become an instructor after completing his training, he resigned and re-applied as an air-crew trainee. His commission was reinstated in January 1941, and he was sent to the Middle East where he took up flying duties in Tomahawks with 250 Squadron RAF. Following a short period of operations in Syria and Cyprus, Caldwell and the squadron were relocated to the Western Desert. It was in this theatre that he achieved great success during intensive operations.





On 29 August 1941  Caldwell was attacked by two Bf 109s North-West of Sidi Barrani. One of his attackers was the Bf 109 E-7 "black 8" of 2./JG 27 piloted by one of Germany's top aces, Leutnant Werner Schroer who was credited with 114 Allied planes in only 197 combat missions. Caldwell's P-40 "Tomahawk" of 250 Squadron was riddled with more than 100 rounds of 7.9 mm slugs, plus five 20 mm cannon strikes which punctured a tyre and rendered the flaps inoperative. In the first attack Caldwell suffered bullet wounds to the back, left shoulder, and leg. In the next pass one shot slammed through the canopy, causing splinters which wounded him with perspex in the face and shrapnel in the neck. Two cannon shells also punched their way through the rear fuselage just behind him and the starboard wing was badly damaged. Despite damage to both himself and the aircraft, Caldwell, feeling, as he remembers, "quite hostile" turned on his attackers and sent down one of the Bf 109s in flames. The pilot of the second Messerschmitt, the renowned Leutnant Schroer, shocked by this turn of events, evidently made off in some haste. Caldwell's engine had caught fire, however he managed to extinguish the flames with a violent slip. He then nursed his flying wreck back to base at Sidi Haneish.


Kitty Hawk of 112 Sqn with 'Killer' Caldwell far right



Due to his aggressiveness, exceptional combat skills, and determination to strafe ground targets, Caldwell soon acquired the nickname "Killer" which he apparently was not particularly proud of, Caldwell's most successful day was the 5th of December 1941 when he shot down five Ju 87s in a single engagement during operation "Crusader". Whilst with 112 Squadron, the Australian government asked that he be released to return to Australia to command a Wing in the defence of Australia. This Wing was to consist of 3 Squadrons of "Spitfires", and Caldwell spent some time with the Kenley Wing before returning home to acquaint himself with the new aircraft. The Japanese were threatening Northern Australia, and several Australian towns were regularly being bombed. On taking up his command of No. 1 Fighter Wing based in Darwin, Caldwell again showed his outstanding fighting abilities and claimed a further eight Japanese aircraft by August 1943. Clive  'Killer' Caldwell finished the War with 27 victories