Who is "Killer" Caldwell & the "Scrap Iron Flotilla"

To discuss all those Naval and Aviation matters from "Killer" Caldwell to the "Scrap Iron Flotilla".
Post Reply
User avatar
Admin Fella
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4002
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:48 pm
Enter a number between 90 and 100: 92
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Contact:

Who is "Killer" Caldwell & the "Scrap Iron Flotilla"

Post by Admin Fella » Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:21 am

Group Captain Clive Robertson Caldwell, DSO, DFC (and Bar) (1911–1994)

Source: Australian War Memorial


Image

Caldwell was in the Royal Aero Club before the war and had already learnt to fly. When war broke out he joined the RAAF and in 1941 was sent to the Middle East, where he flew first P-40 Tomahawks in No. 250 Squadron RAF and later Kittyhawks as commander of No. 112 Squadron RAF. He never liked the nickname, “Killer”, that was bestowed on him.

The skill of his flying, and the accuracy of his shooting, soon established Caldwell as a leading “ace” in the Western Desert; eventually he shot down more than 20 German and Italian aircraft. One time in combat, his plane was badly hit and he was wounded. Despite this, he destroyed an enemy Messerschmitt and drove off another. Another day, he shot down five German Junkers Ju 87s.

In late 1942 Caldwell returned to assist in the defence of Australia against the Japanese. He took command of No. 1 Fighter (Spitfire) Wing based at Darwin. By August 1943 he had added eight Japanese aircraft to his score. In 1944 he led No. 80 Fighter Wing, and in early 1945 moved to Morotai.

As the Americans took an increasing role in the air war, Australian fighter squadrons were left with less important work; many pilots now felt they were risking their lives for little purpose. Discontent culminated in Caldwell and a group of officers proffering their resignations. This became known as the “Morotai Mutiny”.

The matter was handled very poorly by the Chief of the Air Staff, who was determined to take some disciplinary action. This resulted in the end of Caldwell’s active flying career. The episode left a bitter taste. After the war, Caldwell became a successful businessman and only spoke modestly of his heroic part in the war.

Image

Scrap Iron Flotilla

Source: http://www.gunplot.net/matapan/scrapironflott1.htm

NAZI Propaganda Minister GOEBBELS called them scrap iron. He welcomed them to the Mediterranean in that bleak, cold December of 1939 as a "consignment of junk" and "Australia's Scrap-Iron Flotilla", he ridiculed their fighting power, scoffed at their age and their infirmities.

Of course, there was a germ of truth in his statement. They were old, They weren't very big, or very fast, or very powerful They had been laid down and completed in 1918 when ships were slow and aircraft still in their infancy, and as Herr Goebbels looked at the fast, deadly planes of the Luftwaffe, and at the speedy modem ships of the Italian fleet, perhaps his derision was justified.

But these five had been built by the men of the Clyde whose fathers and forefathers had built ships for war and ships for peace that were the finest in the world, and they flew that proud White Ensign that dips for no man or nation except in honour.

They were manned by seamen who scorned danger, who would cheerfully steam into battle against any odds, and who thought only of victory. For two years they fought, and when they steamed away from the Middle Sea they left behind a score of sunken submarines, scarred and battered cruisers and destroyers, and the mangled remains of some of the Luftwaffe's finest machines. They defied Italian battleships at Calabria, and heavy cruisers at Matapan. They ran the gauntlet of every type of bomber as they plucked troops from the Nazis' grasp in Greece and Crete.

They ran up and down the African escarpment at will, striking the enemy with their puny guns.

Goebbels called them "scrap iron". Admiral Cunningham, in a message read in Australia's House of Representatives, commented: "Nobody will appreciate the 'scrap' better than the officers and men of the Australian destroyers." Australia was proud of these ships. They were her first contribution to the Empire's armed might. Long before the first troopships left with the men who were to make their own "lightning war" in Egypt and Libya, the five little destroyers had sailed without fuss or farewells or bands or streamers, and three months after war was declared they were in the battle arena. They pitted their strength against an opponent whose ships were faster and bigger and more modem than they were, and they left him beaten.

They suffered losses during those long months of constant battle. They were scarred; their timeworn engines were strained almost beyond their limits. But they shirked no fight, avoided no action. Their names were, HMA Ships Stuart, Voyager, Vampire, Vendetta and Waterhen.

Cardinal Biggles

Re: Who is "Killer" Caldwell & the "Scrap Iron Flotilla"

Post by Cardinal Biggles » Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:53 am

Good post A-F ..it is nice to do links but a post you can read immediately makes a difference and with the picture attachment it is easier to save the pics and load them than going through the [img] thing

User avatar
Mal wright
A Middy
A Middy
Posts: 175
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2008 2:37 pm
Enter a number between 90 and 100: 0
Location: Adelaide. South Australia

Re: Who is "Killer" Caldwell & the "Scrap Iron Flotilla"

Post by Mal wright » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:05 pm

Actually, I have especially featured the ships of THE SCRAP IRON FLOTILLA in my 'HIDING IN THE OPEN' book on naval camouflage. Although it mostly goes to overseas wargamers I though...hey...why not feature some of our ships! So I managed to fit them all in and show several more than once in order to cover changes of camouflage and structural alterations.

As a kid, I had a neighbour who had been one of the ground crew who worked on the aircraft that Killer Caldwell flew.

One of my High School teachers was nick named 'Killer Caldwell' but the only relationship he had with things flying, was when he chucked bits of wood at us in woodwork class if we weren't paying attention! :?
Mal.
Salus populi suprema lex

Post Reply