Skip to main content

Clive Robertson Caldwell

You are here

One of the men who defended Darwin from the skies during the bombing raids of 1942 and 1943 became Australia's highest scoring ace of the Second World War.

Clive Robertson Caldwell, born in Sydney in 1910, began his flying career in 1938 when he joined the Aero Club of New South Wales.

In 1941, Clive 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. In January 1942 he was given command of 112 Squadron, RAF, whose P-40 Kittyhawks were already famous, and by May of that year had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar, as well as the Polish Cross of Valour in recognition of his work with that nation's forces.

On his return to Australia in October 1942, Caldwell was given command of No 1 Fighter Wing whose three squadrons of Spitfire Mk Vs were operating in defence of Darwin and was appointed Chief Flying Instructor at an operational training unit.

He added eight Japanese aircraft to his tally of 28.5, earning himself the nickname "Killer”, before relinquishing command of the wing in August 1943.

In 1944, Clive returned to Darwin when we he was given command of No 80 Fighter Wing, equipped with Mk VIII Spitfires. The wing moved to Morotai in December that year.

If any aircraft can be said to epitomise the classic fighter of World War II from the Allied side it was the Spitfire. This sturdy, powerful single seat aircraft was in continuous production through the war, and served in air forces around the world. Eventually the Spitfire was superseded by jets, which could fly faster and boasted a better power to weight ratio. There are around 50 flying versions of the Spitfire still operational, and numerous static models. Displays exist in museums around the world. The Aviation Museum in Darwin has a replica Spitfire on display.

Clive "Killer” Caldwell died in Sydney on 5 August 1994.

Download the Territory Remembers Clive Caldwell Postcard



Clive Caldwell and his Spitfire (NWA0349)
Wing Commander Clive Killer Caldwell (NWA015291)
Clive Caldwell 1943 (NWA0347)