Monday, July 3, 2017

Keith Logan Caldwell

A New Zealand native, Caldwell joined the territorial army, but when he attempted to enlist in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force destined for Gallipoli he was declined. Intrigued with aviation he joined the first class at the New Zealand Flying School in October 1915 and promptly passed his flight tests two months later.
He traveled to England and joined the Royal Flying Corps in April 1916, being commissioned by the RFC in April. On 29 July 1916 he was posted to No. 8 Squadron RFC flying B.E.2Cs and Ds on observation duty. On 18 September 1916, flying a B.E.2D, he and his observer gained their first victory by downing a Roland CII. Caldwell as a natural, after scoring this first victory, he was reassigned to 60 Squadron in November 1916.

By September 1917, while piloting Nieuport Scouts, he had downed seven enemy aircraft. The Scouts were replaced with the S.E.5a in which he scored his ninth victory on 15 September.

He received the Military Cross on 17 September. 

The citation read; "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when leading offensive patrols. On one occasion he led a patrol of five machines against twelve hostile aircraft, all of which he drove down out of control. He has personally destroyed five hostile machines, and has had over fifty contests in the air, in all of which he has displayed splendid skill and fearlessness, and has set an excellent example to his squadron."

Returning to England in October, he served as an instructor until March 1918 when he was promoted to Major and given command of 74 "Tiger" squadron equipped with the S.E.5a, which he took to France on 30 March.

Under Caldwell's guidance the squadron claimed a creditable 140 aircraft destroyed and 85 'out of control' in the remaining eight months of the war.

Before the war was over, Caldwell survived a mid-air collision and scored sixteen more victories bringing his total to 25. Virtually all of his victims were single-seat fighter/scouts. But for his poor marksmanship, some thought that Caldwell might have been one of the highest scoring aces of the war.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in December 1918.

The citation being "A fine fighting airman of courage and determination. On 4th September, when on offensive patrol, he, in company with another machine, attacked four Fokker biplanes; one of these was driven down by this officer. He has accounted for five enemy machines."

Caldwell would also receive the Croix de Guerre from the Belgians.

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