F/Lt JOHN SIMS "JACK"ARCHER SS (409285) 1/0/0


Born in Flemington, Victoria, on 28 September 1920. John Archer worked as a public servant before enlisting on 15 August 1941. Initially posted to 4 Squadron, where Archer would stand unique among RAAF pilots in claiming the only Wirraway victory of WWII. Jumping a Zero and shooting it into the sea off Buna, PNG, in what was no more than a lightly armed advanced trainer. For this action for he received a U.S Silver Star. On 25 August 1943 while serving with 5 Squadron, he collided with another Wirraway during air combat practice. Sending Archer into a spin from which he recovered, but finding he had no elevator control he was forced to bail out. He was later posted to 75 Squadron flying P-40s. Archer stayed in the air force after the war before his discharge on 5 March 1948.

See Also:

Service Record

Newspapers   Newspapers II Part 1  Newspapers II Part 2  Newspapers II Part 3

Combat Claims:

1     42.12.26 4 Wirraway Zero Buna A20-103 D




(information updated 16 Mar 2013)








'Woof' Arthur was born 7 December, 1919 in Yelarbon, Queensland. He was educated at Scots College in Warick, Queensland. He enlisted in the RAAF on 4 September, 1939, and was serving in 22 Squadron RAAF at the outbreak of hostilities. He was awarded his flying badge on 2 March, 1940. On 27 March he was posted to 3 Squadron RAAF and embarked for the Middle East on 14 July. After attending 71 OTU he flew operations in Gladiators. Arthur claimed a CR42 destroyed on 12 December but the following day was shot down, and bailed out, after attacking S-79s and CR42s. While exiting his aircraft he first became entangled with his oxygen hose and then with the wing bracing wires. At 1000ft he was eventually torn free by the force of the air rushing over his aircraft. He destroyed a CR42 and damaged another on 26 December, North East of Sollum Bay. Converting to Hurricanes he added a Bf110 destroyed during the First Libyan Campaign. The squadron again changed aircraft type to Tomahawks for the Syrian Campaign, before a return to Libya. Between 12 October and 22 November he probably destroyed a Bf109 and damaged another five aircraft. On 30 November Arthur shot down two Ju87s, one G50 and a MC200 but was shot down and forced to land within the Tobruk fortress. He then flew out in a borrowed Hurricane. For this action he was awarded a DFC. He was promoted to flight commander in October, 1941, and then returned to Australia in March 1942.

On 13 April he joined 76 Squadron RAAF, flying in the Battle of Milne Bay. He had a stint at 2OTU Mildura as Chief Flying Instructor from 23 April, and was promoted to Squadron Leader on 1 October. He joined 75 Squadron on 21 January 1943, and shared in the destruction of a Betty bomber near Trobriand Island on 10 March. He commanded 75 Squadron in New Guinea from 13 April 1943, succeeding Les Jackson. One day later he led the squadron against an estimated 90+ enemy aircraft over Milne Bay. Arthur was awarded DSO for this action described in his medal citation below.




On June 14 1943, he was promoted to wing commander and took control of 71 Wing. However on 5 November, while taking off from Kiriwina, he collided with a 79 Squadron Spitfire which had taxied on to the runway. F/Sgt Ian Hope Callister in the Spitfire was killed in the resulting explosion, and Arthur received serious burns to his hands, shoulders and face, escaping his aircraft while engulfed in flames. He remained close to death for weeks, undergoing treatment at Kirwina before being repatriated to Sydney, where he underwent plastic surgery. By April 1944 he had recovered enough to attend a staff course before taking command of 2OTU on 3 July. On 5 October at the age of 24 he became the RAAFs youngest group captain. On 31 October while in the company of 76 Squadron P-40s he probably destroyed a Betty bomber over Jaquinot Bay, New Britain. On 16 December he took control of 81 Wing. In April 1945, a short time after taking control of 78 Wing, he and seven other senior pilots triggered what became known as the "Morotai Mutiny" when they attempted to resign their commissions in protest to the losses sustained by the RAAF in attacking worthless targets. Arthur remained with 78 Wing unitil 25 May and was discharged on 14 February 1946.

Post war he moved to Darwin, working for the Repatriation Department. In 1950 he joined the Australian School of Pacific Administration, and travelled to Vietnam to help establish a dairy farm at Ben Cat. He was captured by the Viet Cong in 1961 but was released upon payment of a ransom, which was reportedly a typewriter. Staying in Vietnam he later supplied duck feathers to the U.S military for use in life jackets before returning to Australia. He became administration manager for Geopeko, an exploration unit which discovered the Ranger uranium deposit at Jabiru. He remained in Darwin and passed away on 23 December 2000, at age 81. His official wartime tally is often stated at between 8-10 aircraft destroyed but unofficially has been stated as high as 19 1/2 destroyed. Arthur was also twice mentioned in despatches.

See Also:

Service Record

Combat Claims:


0.5     43.03.10 75 P-40 Betty Urasi Is. A29-125 Y
  1P   43.10.31 76 P-40 Betty Jaquinot Bay A29-356 SV-V


P-40E A29-133 "Polly" displayed at the Australian War Memorial. The aircraft was flown by

Arthur in the action in which he received his Distinguished Service Order.

 Information updated 17 June 2013





W/C GEOFFREY CHARLES ATHERTON DFC & BAR, MiD (408030)  3 & 2sh/1/6



Geoff Atherton was born in Launceston, Tasmania, on 27 September 1919. He worked as a Clerk in a public accountant's office for 3 1/2 years before enlisting in the RAAF on 19 July 1940. Three days later he was posted to 1 ITS, Somers, followed by a posting to 7 EFTS, Western Junction, on 19 September. His next posting was to 1 SFTS, Point Cook, arriving on 18 November. While flying Hawker Demon A1-23 on 11 December Atherton undershot the runway after his engine failed at 200ft. The resulting heavy landing extensively damaged the undercarriage, radiator and airscrew; however Atherton escaped suffering only slight shock. On 19 March 1941 he was posted to 25 Squadron at Pearce and on 9 September was granted a Commission. While flying Wirraway A20-126 on 14 October he was court martialed on charges of disobeying an order not to fly below 3000ft, and the unusual charge of "flew plane in a manner likely to cause unnecessary annoyance to persons". In today's Australian parlance this would be known as "hooning". He was found not guilty on both counts.

Atherton's next posting was to 24 Squadron (Wirraways) at Townsville on 27 January 1942. However his stay was brief and he was posted to 75 Squadron (Kittyhawks) as a flight leader on 15 March. He arrived at Port Moresby six days later by Catalina Flying Boat on the eve of 75 Squadrons first offensive mission against the Japanese at Lae. Despite barely laying eyes on a modern fighter by the time of his arrival at Port Moresby, Atherton was to claim a bomber destroyed over 7 Mile Drome on 10 April. Over the next five days he destroyed a Zero, shared in the destruction of another, and had a probable and damaged claim on yet other Zeros. Although some records are confusing he may have also shared in the destruction of a bomber during his time at Moresby. After 44 days of near continuous action 75 Squadron had fought its self to a standstill, and was withdrawn to Townsville to rest and re-equip.

75 Squadron along with 76 Squadron returned to Papua to defend the new airstrip at Milne Bay in July. During the Battle of Milne Bay, when the Japanese attempted to seize the airfield, Atherton would claim a Zero destroyed and another as probably destroyed. On 2 January 1943 he was rested and returned to Australia where he worked as a fighter controller at 9 Fighter Control, Cairns. He was Mentioned in Dispatches on 26 March (London Gazette) and returned to 75 Squadron at Milne Bay on 5 April. Nine days later he made his last claim of the war, downing a "Betty" bomber over Milne Bay. He assumed command of the squadron in October and was posted to 2 OTU, Mildura, on 22 December as an instructor but was appointed as commander of 82 Squadron (Kittyhawks and P-39 Airacobras) five days later. The Squadron was still in training at this time having been formed at Bankstown only six months prior. He attended the RAAF Staff College, Point Cook, on 3 April 1944 and undertook training, and was awarded a DFC in June for "outstanding courage and leadership on two tours". He was then posted to command 80 Squadron (Kittyhawks) at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, on 5 July 1944. On 30 September he was posted to 78 Wing HQ and assumed command of the wing on 10 November.


Geoff Atherton's P-40 "Cleopatra III" A29-629 (his 3rd Cleopatra) at Morotai on 19 March 1945. Flying this aircraft he became the first RAAF Pacific P-40 pilot to carry a 1500lb bomb load, and on a rainy Christmas Day 1944 it survived a taxiing accident with A29-607, which had just hit a jeep.

On 3 February 1945, while on a low level intruder sweep over Hatatabako Airdrome / Halmahera Island, Atherton (flying A29-647) in the company of F/Lt B. Carroll (A29-701) was hit behind the cockpit and in the radiator by 25mm anti-aircraft fire over the target. The aircraft immediately began streaming glycol and smoke which covered his windshield obstructing his forward vision. Heading out to sea and within a minute his oil and glycol temperatures were "off the clock" and he prepared to ditch. The canopy refused to jettison so it was locked back. He disconnected his helmet and microphone, tightened his straps, loosened his dingy, and partially inflated his Mae West. After calling F/Lt Carroll and telling him he was putting down he made his approach with full flaps at 110 mph, running parallel to the swell. He cut his ignition and touched down tail first at around 90 mph. He skated along for some distance before a wing dug in and slewed him around 180 degrees, bringing him to an abrupt stop. He stepped out onto the starboard wing and freed his life raft. His aircraft sunk within 15 seconds and he climbed onto his raft which had to be partially inflated by hand bellows. F/Lt Carroll circled and then returned to organize rescue. Not long after two 75 Squadron P-40s arrived as top cover. While drifting closer to Boebole Island he came under fire from several rounds of inaccurate rifle fire. He paddled further away and around 90 minutes after his ditching he sighted a Catalina at around 15 miles distance. He successfully signaled it with a mirror and was picked up and taken back to his base at Morotai.

On 16 June he returned to Australia and took command of 8 OTU, Parkes, and on 19 October (London Gazette) he was awarded a Bar to his DFC with the following citation.



From 21 November he was posted to Air Force HQ, Melbourne, for operations duties with the Air Force Staff Branch. In February 1946 he took command of Air Defence HQ, Brisbane and was demobilised on 28 June, 1946. On 24 June 1966 he was awarded an OBE and Atherton passed away in 1980.

Known Promotions:  ACII  19.07.40,  LAC  16.09.40,  (T) Sgt  11.03.41,  P/O  10.09.41,  F/O  10.03.42,  (T) F/Lt  10.09.43,  (T) S/Ldr  01.01.45,  (A) W/C  17.01.45

See Also:

Service Record

Court Martial

MiD Citation

Newspapers  Newspapers II  Newspapers III  Newspapers IV

Combat Claims:


42.03/04 75 P-40 Bomber Unknown


42.04.10 75 P-40 Betty Pt.Moresby A29-21 K

1D 42.04.18 75 P-40 Zero Pt.Moresby


42.04.21 75 P-40 Zero Pt.Moresby A29-43 P

42.04.23 75 P-40 Zero Pt.Moresby

1D 42.04.24 75 P-40 Zero Pt.Moresby

2D 42.04.25 75 P-40 Fighter Pt.Moresby A29-31 Q

1P 1D 42.04.26 75 P-40 Zero Pt.Moresby A29-79

1D 42.08.11 75 P-40 Zero Milne Bay A29-99 P

43.04.14 75 P-40 Betty Milne Bay







Denis Baker was born in Suva, Fiji on 7 February 1920. Before the war he served with the Militia in an anti-aircraft unit and worked as a clerk with the Perpetual Trustee Company in North Sydney, NSW. On 28 April 1941 he joined the RAAF and was sent on #14 course at 2 ITS, Bradfield Park, NSW. In June he was posted to 5 EFTS, Narromine, NSW, then to 2 SFTS, Wagga Wagga, NSW, in the August to fly the Wirraway advanced trainer where he was graded as average. After receiving his flying badge on 15 October 1941 he was posted to 1 OTU, Nhill, on 19 October to instruct flying Wirraways. He was commissioned a Pilot Officer on 15 December 1941. In March 1942 he was posted to 3 Squadron but this was changed that month and he became an original member of 76 Squadron, flying Kittyhawks. Denis was consequently to see action with 76 Squadron during the Battle of Milne Bay in August through September of 1942. In January 1943 he was posted out of 76 Squadron for instructor duties at 2 OTU, Mildura, joining that unit in February. While instructing at 2 OTU he was involved in a wheels up landing of a Wirraway after one of the props was shot off.

On 19 May 1944 he joined 78 Squadron at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, to take over command of A Flight, and later that month named his Kittyhawk A29-575 "Black Magic". On 3 June 1944 he was involved in the squadron's "Big Do" where he claimed a Zero (Hap) shot down south of Biak Island over the Japen Straits. Exactly a week later he was to shoot down a Judy (claimed as a Tony, but none of these aircraft had been in the area for some time). This was to be the last RAAF claim in the New Guinea campaign. Both claims were made in his regular aircraft A29-575 "Black Magic". On the 5 January 1945 he received a recommendation for a DFC to be awarded due to his 'exceptional courage in attacks on Wewak, Wadke and Biak Island'. Twelve days later he flew his last operation with 78 Squadron and his last for the war. On returning to Australia he had a second stint as an instructor with 2 OTU, with his final posting being to Cressy, Vic for a pilot gunnery instructor's course on 24 May 1945. He was discharged from the RAAF on 26 November 1945. On 15 March 1949 the Governor General presented Denis with his DFC at Parliament House, Melbourne.  - Gordon Clarke

Combat Claims:

1     44.06.03 78 P-40 Zero
Japen Straits
A29-575 HU-E
1     44.06.10 78 P-40 Judy
Japen Straits
A29-575 HU-E


"Denny" Baker in what is believed to be his Kittyhawk "Black Magic" possibly on Noemfoor Island. Photo via 78 Squadron Association

 (Information updated 22 June 2013)






 F/Lt ARTHUR EVAN BATCHELOR (411729) 1/2/3


Born in Sydney, NSW, on 19 November 1917. Worked as a salesman before enlisting on 25 May 1941. After training, Batchelor embarked for England via Canada where he was posted to 242 Squadron flying Spitfire Vbs.  During this time the squadron was involved in the Dieppe operations. Returned to Australia where he was posted to 457 Squadron in defence of Darwin. In combat on March 15 1943, after claiming a Zero probably destroyed, his Spitfire was struck by two small calibre bullets which damaged his hydraulic lines and engine mount. He was however able to land safely. In November 1943 he was posted to 2OTU, and later to 8OTU, before joining 79 Squadron at Moratai on February 15 1945. Batchelor was discharged on October 14 1949.

Combat Claims:

  1P   43.03.15 457 Spitfire Zero Darwin    
    1D 43.06.20 457 Spitfire Bomber Darwin    
1 1P   43.07.06 457 Spitfire Betty Fenton BR468 ZP-M
    1D 43.08.11 457 Spitfire Lilly Emu Springs JK225  
    1D 43.09.07 457 Spitfire Zeke Pt. Patterson BR468 ZP-M







John Bisley was born in Molong, NSW, on 7 May 1920. He attended Bathurst High School, matriculated with Honours. He worked as a clerk with the Commonwealth bank before enlisting in the RAAF on 14 October 1940. He was posted to 2 ITS, Linfield and on 12 December he attended 4 EFTS, Mascot, before transferring to 2 EFTS, Wagga Wagga, on 10 February 1941. Bisley embarked for the United Kingdom from Sydney on 13 June, arriving on 31 July and was posted to 57 OTU, Hawarden, ten days later for conversion to Spitfires. His first operational posting was to 122 Squadron RAF, which at the time of his arrival on 27 September was flying defensive operations in Spitfire MkIs & IIs from Turnhouse, Scotland. They began receiving MkVs from November.

In February 1942 Bisley was posted to Malta, and on 29 March flew a Spitfire MkV off the deck of HMS Eagle and onto Malta as part of Operation Picket II, part of the effort to re-supply and strengthen the besieged Malta garrison. Flying with 126 Squadron RAF throughout his Malta deployment he opened his account on 5 April when he downed a Ju88 and a Ju87 over the Grand Harbour. However after downing the two aircraft he was jumped by up to 12 Bf 109s. A running battle then ensued with two of the German fighters and he was wounded in the legs by splinters from 20mm shells which exploded in his cockpit. With a damaged engine and smashed instrument panel he was chased all the way back to his airfield at Takali. Having no time to lower his undercarriage, he belly-landed at 140mph as German bombs from an incoming raid began falling around him. He was helped from his cockpit and into a trench and watched as his Spitfire was hit by a bomb. Bisley was transferred to 90th General Hospital where he recuperated and returned to his squadron nearly one month later. Throughout the next two months his score continued to rise, downing a MC202 on 9 May and a Bf109F on the 18th. On 11 June he claimed one Bf109F destroyed and one probable, and was awarded a DFC in the same month with the following citation:

"This officer is a courageous and determined pilot. One day in April, during an engagement with a superior number of enemy aircraft he destroyed 2 bombers. Although he himself was severely wounded during the combat, he succeeded in landing at base. Pilot Officer Bisley has destroyed 5 hostile aircraft."

His final claim over the island fortress was a shared destroyed BR20 (actually an S-84) on 6 July.

During the month he was granted leave and returned to the UK. On 21 August he was briefly posted to 55 OTU, Ashton Downs, as an instructor. During one of his postings to UK OTU's, either at 57 OTU or 55 OTU, Bisley was involved in a horrific accident. Although the circumstances leading up to the incident are not yet known, Bisley on his last flight with the training unit crashed his Spitfire into the sea at around 300 mph off the English coast.

"When I hit the sea I was knocked out. The chances of coming out of such a crash were very slim, and my first thought when I became conscious was "I am dead."

Bisley had regained consciousness fathoms below the water on the sea bed, strapped to the seat of his cockpit, into which the water had not yet leaked.

"When I realized I was still alive, I unstrapped myself, and pulled back the cover. Flames were coming from the cockpit and, although the whole thing was only a matter of seconds during that time my thoughts were racing. I gave myself a push and went straight to the surface. There was a plane flying overhead, flown by one of my friends. I waved to him and he went for assistance. The Air Force staff salvaged my machine later. When I saw it after it had been brought up. I realized what a narrow escape I had. The wings, which were constructed most solidly, were rolled into small balls up to the fuselage and the motor had been torn back. I was lucky that it did not crush me. The only part of the plane unharmed was the cockpit."




On 23 August he embarked from the UK for Australia. After his arrival at Sydney he was posted to 452 Squadron, Richmond, NSW, on 11 December, and followed them on their deployment to Strauss, Northern Territory, in January 1943. On 24 March while testing Spitfire EE 609, Bisley felt that the aircraft was slow for the amount of boost he was using. Deciding to land he found that only one flap would come down, so he attempted to land without flaps. The duty pilot estimated his landing speed at 140 mph, and Bisley overshot the runway and had to steer down the dispersal path. Eventually he ground looped some distance down the path but was uninjured in the incident. Bisley made his final claim of the war when he downed a Ki-49 Helen (claimed as a Betty) southwest of Cape Gambier on 20 June. On 5 August while flying Spitfire AR 563 he suffered a glycol leak while leading a practice formation. He was forced to land in a small clearing west of Middle Arm but in doing so was slightly injured when his aircraft struck an ant hill.

Bisley ended his tour in December and was posted to 55 OBU, Birdum, and then to 2 AP, Bankstown, as test & ferry pilot on 10 March 1944. In late June he was posted to the Central Flying School, and in August to 8 OTU, Parkes, as an instructor. On 1 June 1945 he took command of the Bombing and Central Gunnery School at Parkes and was demobilised at his own request on 26 September of the same year. In 1955 he went on to form his own trading company, Bisley and Company Pty Ltd, with branches in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Dubai.

Known Promotions:   ACII  14.10.40,  LAC  7.12.40,  Sgt  29.5.41,  P/O  5.1.42,  F/O  15.7.42,  F/Lt  15.1.44

See Also:

Service Record

Newspapers   Newspapers II   Newspapers III   Newspapers IV Part 1  Newspapers IV Part 2

Combat Claims:

1     43.06.20 452 Spitfire Helen Cape Gambier BR236





 F/Lt NORMAN FLOWER BLESING (407996) 1sh/0/0


Norm Blesing was born the youngest of five at Laura, SA, on 4 February 1916. On 1 March 1941 he walked into Peterborough, SA, to enlist in the RAAF just after his 25th birthday. He was enrolled in #12 course at 1 ITS at Somers, and on completion transferred to #13 course at 7 EFTS, Western Junction, on 1 June 1941 to fly Tiger Moths. On 29 July Norm was posted to another #13 course, this time at 7 SFTS, Deniliquin, to do advanced flying on Wirraways. It was from here that he graduated with his pilot wings as a Sergeant pilot on 12 November. Later in the month of November he was sent to the embarkation depot in Adelaide, SA where he waited for his posting to an RAF Squadron in England.

The bombing of Pearl Harbour cancelled that posting and he was then sent to another embarkation depot, this time at Bradfield Park, Sydney, on 9 December. He remained there until 24 February 1942 when he was posted to Laverton, Vic, for conversion to Hawker Demons! Three days later he was sent to a Head Quarters flight at Richmond, NSW, where with two other pilots did the MET flights, Army Co-operation, ferrying aircraft, as well as parachute testing. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1 August 1942, made a Pilot Officer on 1 October, followed by Flying Officer on 1 April 1943. The following month on the 2nd he was sent to 2 OTU, Mildura, for conversion to Kittyhawks prior to an operational posting.

On 7 July 1943 Norm arrived at Camden, NSW, as an original member of 78 Squadron, set to fly the new P-40N Kittyhawks. His SWPA tour started when he arrived at Kiriwina Island in the Trobriand Group in A29-426 HU-G, on 13 November 1943. Numerous operations were carried out by him until his tour ended. He was involved in the "Big Do" on 3 June 1944, when flying A29-463 he shared in the destruction of a Japanese fighter (claimed as an Oscar but may have been a Zero) with F/L John Griffith. His SWPA tour ended at the end of June or early July 1944 when he was posted back to Australia for a stint as an instructor at 2 OTU, Mildura, and was later joined by his mates from 78 Squadron, Denis Baker and Derek Beaurepaire. On 1 October he was promoted to F/Lt and was discharged from the RAAF while still at 2 OTU, on 21 September 1945.  - Gordon Clarke

Known Promotions:    Sgt  12.11.41,   F/Sgt  1.8.42,   P/O  1.10.42,   F/O  1.4.43,   F/Lt  1.10.44

See Also:


Combat Claims:

0.5     44.06.03 78 P-40 Fighter
Japen Straits A29-463







S/Ldr ALAN HILL BOYD (561) 1sh/0/2


Alan Boyd was born in Quirindi, New South Wales, on 17 March 1916. He was a regular RAAF officer before the war, and in 1940 was initially posted to 3 Squadron RAAF, in the Middle East. At this time the squadron was flying Gloster Gladiator II biplanes. In a period between 19 November and 26 December he had claims of six destroyed, two or three probables, and two damaged. This included 3 destroyed and a probable in a day on 19 November.  On 13 December he destroyed two aircraft off Bardia but was one of five Gladiators shot down that day, and forced landed. All his Middle Eastern claims were against Italian CR42s. After this period he was rested, finishing his tour as one of a rare breed of WWII biplane aces. Returning to Australia, he flew as a flight commander with 75 Squadron, in the defence of Port Moresby. Here he shared in the destruction of a Zero and damaged a further two. He subsequently served with 76 and 84 Squadron, before commanding 101 and 110 Fighter Control Units during 1944. He ended the war as commander of 67 Squadron RAAF, a reconnaissance and anti- submarine patrol unit. He was discharged on 17 October 1947.

Combat Claims:

    1D 42.04.18 75 P-40 Zero Pt.Moresby A29-47 R
0.5   1D 42.04.21 75 P-40 Zero Pt.Moresby A29-47 R








DSO, DFC & BAR, CdeV (402107) 7/3/0



Clive Caldwell was born in Lewisham, NSW, on 28 July 1911. He was educated at Albion Park School, Sydney Grammar School & Trinity Grammar School. He worked as an assurance officer, a bank officer & a garage proprietor prior to his enlistment in the RAAF. In 1938 he learned to fly with the Aero Club of New South Wales, flying solo after three and a half hours, and joined the RAAF in September 1939 on the outbreak of war. Being too old to become a fighter pilot he altered his birth certificate with the help of a pharmacist friend. He undertook a pilot officers course in February 1940. However upon learning that all graduates were to become instructors he resigned and rejoined as an aircrew trainee on 25 May. He was posted to 2 ITS, Bradfield Park (#1 course) on 10 July 1940, and carried out his elementary training at 4 EFTS, Mascot, from 25 July before moving to 2 SFTS, Wagga Wagga, NSW from 23 September. All three of these courses were the first courses undertaken by the respective training facilities under E.A.T.S (Empire Air Training Scheme).     

On 3 February 1941 he departed Australia for the Middle East aboard the "Aquitania" and arrived in Egypt on 24 March. He was briefly posted to 73 Squadron RAF, before joining 250 Squadron RAF (Tomahawks) in Palestine on 7 May. After a few missions he and two other pilots were detached and briefly formed the fighter defense of Cyprus before he returned to the squadron in the Western Desert. In his first few aerial combats Caldwell was disappointed with his results, having failed to hit anything but receiving a few hits on his own aircraft. However one day while flying in the company of another Tomahawk he noticed its shadow racing across the desert. Realizing its significance, he lined up the shadow and fired a burst which hit the sand well over and behind its intended target. Over several days he experimented with various deflections required to hit a target at any speed, and within a month Caldwell's "Shadow Shooting" technique was being adopted across all squadrons in the Middle East, and would become widely used among all Commonwealth pilots. It would turn Caldwell into a crack shot, and he began to claim steadily after his first full claim of a Bf109 destroyed on his 30th sortie west of Capuzzo on 26 June. Within a month he was an ace, and on 29 August he was attacked by two Bf109s while flying alone over northwest Egypt. One of them piloted by German Experte Leautnant Werner Schroer (102 total victories) of JG 27. Caldwell's aircraft sustained over 100 hits and he was slightly injured by shrapnel, but he managed to shoot down Schroer's wingman, and so heavily damaged Schroer's aircraft that he had to disengage. He was awarded a DFC for an action on 23 November when he downed Experte Hauptmann Wolfgang Lippert (29 victories), Commander of II./JG 27. Lippert bailed out but struck the stabilizer on exiting the aircraft. He was captured but the damage to his legs required amputation. He would later die of a gangrene infection in his wounds. In an ace in a day performance Caldwell would receive a bar to his DFC after he shot down five JU87's south of El Adem on 5 December.


Images of Clive Caldwell

By now the press had started to give him the name "Killer" Caldwell. A named he disliked. Some say this was because after he witnessed a fellow pilot still descending in his parachute gunned down by a German pilot, Caldwell then took up the practice, and did so on more than one occasion. Caldwell stated that this was not out of revenge but because it was one less pilot who could fly against him, and was unrepentant for his actions. On 24 December he engaged another German ace. Hpt. Erbo Graf Von Kageneck (69 victories), was mortally wounded in the action. Caldwell initially only claimed the aircraft as damaged but this was confirmed destroyed post war.

Three days prior to this engagement Caldwell was appointed as C.O of 112 Squadron RAF, and was promoted to Acting Squadron leader early in January 1942. This making him the first E.A.T.S graduated to command an RAF squadron. The squadron at this time included a number of Polish aviators and he was later awarded the Polish Cross of Valor for this reason. Caldwell continued to rack up victories and when he finally left the squadron on 6 May, he had amassed 22 confirmed victories. This total would stand as the most victories by any P-40 pilot of the war. He left Cairo on 13 May for the UK, where he briefly joined the Kenely Wing to learn about Spitfire operations. He would then return to Australia via the USA, arriving home in September, and then was posted as an instructor at 2 OTU, Mildura, from 5 October. During this time he also tested and evaluated the new Australian-built CAC Boomerang fighter. On 23 November he was appointed as the Flying Wing Commander of 1 Wing (Spitfire Mk IVCs) in the North Western Area. Caldwell would make several more claims in this sector, including downing a "Dinah" on 17 August 1943. This would be his final claim of the war. He would return to 2 OTU as Chief Instructor on 27 September, and was awarded a DSO in November with the following citation;




 On 7 May 1944 he was appointed as commander of 80 Wing and promoted to Acting Group Captain on 1 August. He followed the wing to Morotai where the wing was involved in ground attack duties. Caldwell was a leading figure in what became known as the "Morotai Mutiny". He and several other prominent officers offered their resignations in protest of what they saw as the RAAFs role in risking valuable pilots and fighters against useless targets. This led to a number of his superior officers being dismissed and Caldwell and the other "mutineers" cleared. He was then attached to HQ, 1TAF, and then moved to Melbourne in May. Prior to this incident Caldwell had been charged with his involvement in transporting and selling alcohol to U.S personnel. In 1946 he was court martialled for this offence and reduced to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. He was discharged on 5 March 1946. Caldwell would end the war as the highest ranking Australian ace of WWII, with an estimated tally of 25 or 26 aircraft destroyed, 2-4 shared destroyed, 11 probables, and 25-28 damaged. And also destroyed two aircraft on the ground. Along with being the highest scoring P-40 pilot of the war, he was the highest scoring Spitfire pilot in the SWPA, and the highest scoring Australian pilot in the same theatre. However after his discharge he would never fly another aircraft. However he was involved in an aircraft accident in May 1946, when the Waco aircraft he was in flipped on landing. Middle East ace John Waddy was also a passenger. No one was injured in the accident. Post war he was involved in purchasing surplus aircraft and military equipment from the U.S Liquidation Commission in the Philippines and exporting these to Australia. Later he was employed with a cloth import/export business, and  would become a partner and chairman of the board of this company which achieved considerable success. The business would eventually bear his name, Clive Caldwell (Sales) Pty Ltd.  Caldwell passed away on 5 August 1994.




* Caldwell would rise to the rank of Group Captain before being demoted to Flight Lieutenant just before his discharge.

Known Promotions:   L.A.C 27.07.40,   P/O 12.01.41,   F/O 12.07.41,   F/Lt(A) 25.09.41,   S/Ldr(A) 06.01.42,   F/Lt(T) 01.10.42,   Wg/Com(A) 01.01.43,  S/Ldr(T) 01.07.44,  G/Capt(A) 01.08.44

See Also:

DFC Citation  (NAA: A9300, CALDWELL C R)

Bar to DFC Citation  (NAA: A9300, CALDWELL C R)

Full List of Caldwell's Logbook Claims (pdf file)

Service Record

Record of Court Martial

Newspapers  (Trove)

Combat Claims:

1     43.03.02 1WING Spitfire Zero P.Charles BS234 CR-C
1     43.03.02 1WING Spitfire Kate P.Charles BS234 CR-C
2     43.05.02 1WING Spitfire Zero Darwin BR295 CR-C
1     43.06.20 1WING Spitfire Zero Darwin BS295 CR-C
  1P   43.06.20 1WING Spitfire Betty Darwin BS295 CR-C
  1P   43.06.28 1WING Spitfire Zero Batchelor BS234 CR-C
1     43.06.30 1WING Spitfire Zero Batchelor BS295 CR-C
  1P   43.06.30 1WING Spitfire Betty Batchelor BS295 CR-C
    43.08.17 1WING Spitfire Dinah C.Fourcroy JL394 CR-C

° Claim may have been shared with P.A Padula 452 Squadron.




(Information updated 23 Oct 2014)









Born on September 1st 1910 in West Maitland, New South Wales. Employed as a bus driver before enlisting on 14th October 1940. Deployed to Singapore as a Sgt with 453 Squadron, he gained all his claims in the fighting over Malaya. Evacuated prior to the fall of Singapore, he went on to serve with 76 Squadron and as a Squadron Leader and commander of 5 Squadron flying CAC Boomerangs. He was discharged from service on the 5th December 1945 and died in the 1980s.

See Also:

Service Record

Combat Claims:

1     41.12.17 453 Buffalo Fighter Ipoh AN180? GA-B
1     41.12.22 453 Buffalo Ki43 Kuala Lumpur

2     41.12.22 453 Buffalo Fighter Kuala Lumpur

1     42.01.17 21/453 Buffalo Ki27 Muar River
AN180? GA-B
1     42.01.17 21/453 Buffalo Zero Maur River
AN180? GA-B






F/O RICHARD ROY "DICK" COWLEY MiD (405834) 1/0/1


Dick Cowley was born at Taringa, Brisbane, on 30 November 1922. Before the war he worked as a clerk. In January 1941 he enlisted in the Reserve at just 18 years of age. On 21 June 1941 he was called up into the RAAF and started #16 Course at 3 ITS at Sandgate, Qld, then on 4 September he transferred to 6 EFTS at Tamworth, NSW, to do his basic pilot training on Tiger Moths. After basic flying training he went to 2 SFTS, Wagga Wagga, NSW, to complete advanced flying on Wirraways, where he graduated as a Sergeant pilot. His first posting was to 23 Squadron at Lowood, Qld, on 29 April 1942. Some eight months later he was posted to 83 Squadron at Strathpine, Qld, where he flew CAC Boomerang aircraft, but was only there about 10 or 11 weeks before being sent to 2 OTU for conversion to Kittyhawks.

Dick Cowley was one of the original pilots for 78 Squadron when he was posted to Camden, NSW, in late July 1943. During the squadron work up Dick fell ill with pneumonia and was sent to Concord Hospital in late September 1943. Consequently didn't fly out with the squadron to their operational posting in November. He did however join them in December at their base on Kiriwina Island. On 3 June 1944 he was flying as Red 3 in Kittyhawk A29-464 in the major combat that day and shot down one Zero and damaged another. Some 20 days later on 23 June Dick was promoted to temporary Warrant Officer that took effect from 1 May 1944. On 1 July when returning from a local patrol with an unserviceable propeller, his aircraft (A29-562) suffered a port side landing gear collapse after his wheel separated from the landing leg on touching down. Cowley was not injured. A couple of days after the MIA of F/O Gordon White, W/O Cowley was appointed Officer Commanding B Flight, possibly the lowest ranked RAAF pilot to hold that position. On 21 August another promotion came through for Dick when he was promoted to Pilot Officer with effect from 1 May. In early September F/L Harry Kerr was appointed Officer Commanding B Flight and Dick stood down. By early October his SWPA tour was up and he was posted home to Australia. Early in the New Year another promotion to Flying Officer effective from 1 November 1944 came through.

On 11 May 1945 Dick was Mentioned in Despatches in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, and a little over two months later F/O Cowley was discharged from the RAAF while at Aircrew Officers and NCO School. He then joined the RANVR on 26 July 1945 with the rank of acting Sub-Lieutenant, and from that date was loaned to Fleet Air Arm of Royal Navy. His postings were to "Nabthorpe" and "Moreton", but the war ended before any operational posting and he was demobbed from "Moreton" on 25 September 1945. He moved back to Queensland and took up farming before retiring to Toowoomba, Qld where he passed away in 2008.    - Gordon Clarke




Known Promotions:   LAC  21.8.41,  Sgt  5.3.42,  F/Sgt  1.5.43,  W/O(T)  1.5.44,  P/O  1.5.44,  F/O  1.11.44

See Also:

Service Record 

Newspapers   Newspapers II   Newspapers III 

Combat Claims: 

1   1D 44.06.03 78 P-40 Zero
Japen Straits A29-464 HU-T








Born in Launceston, Tasmania on 27 July 1920, joining as a regular officer of the RAAF on 19 July 1938. Commanded 77 Squadron early in its formation and its subsequent deployment to Batchelor, NT, as the RAAF were taking over the defence of Darwin from the U.S 49th Fighter Group. Cresswell shot down a Betty on 23 November 1942, becoming the first Australian pilot to shoot down an aircraft over Australian soil. This became the first night victory over Australia as well. In February 1943 the Squadron was moved to Milne Bay where he was to see more combat. After serving time as an instructor at 2OTU, Cresswell returned to command 77 Squadron from September 1944 through to August 1945, also acting as Wing Leader of 81 Wing during this period.

He was to command the squadron a third time in the Korean War flying Mustangs and Meteors, where he was awarded a DFC, a U.S DFC and a U.S Air Medal. Near the end of his time with 77 Squadron he was attached to the USAF's 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, flying 10 sorties in F-86 Sabres. On 26 September 1951 while flying a Sabre he damaged a MiG 15.

Cresswell retired from service in April 1957 but continued to work as a pilot. He flew for Sepik Airways, owned and operated by Australian WWII ace "Bobby" Gibbes. He was a test pilot for DeHavilland Australia, and flew in Antarctica for the Australian Antarctic Division. In later life he was a sought-after guest speaker. Cresswell died in 2006.

See Also:

Newspapers    Newspapers II   Newspapers III Part 1 Newspapers III Part 2

Combat Claims:

    42.11.23 77 P-40 Betty Darwin A29-113 U
1     43.04.14 77 P-40 Bomber Milne Bay A29-166  AM-U




 (Information updated 16 Mar 2013)