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Jack E Caldwell
387th BG 558h BS

I have encountered a dilemma...different reports of how Jack was killed.

Account #1 described by two different people.
• 19 April, 1944 Letter
FROM: Brigadier General Samuel E. Anderson, IX Bomber Group
TO: James R. Caldwell, Jack's father.
Description:
“Jack was landing his Group in an attack against German installations in the Dunkirk area of France when his airplane received a direct hit by an enemy flack shell. This hit carried away part of one wing and caused the plane to go out of control. Later the tail section fell off and the plane was seen to crash in the water just outside of the Dunkirk Harbor. Pictures of the plane going down show that one crew member certainly escaped by parachute and that possibly a second escaped.”

• 1 May 1946 Letter
FROM: Captain Brigadier General Leon Johnson
TO: James R. Caldwell, Jack's father.
Description:
“...records indicate that he was killed in action 12 April 1944, when his Marauder bomber crashed in Dunkirk Harbor, France. These same records indicate that on 14 April 1944, he was buried in the Community Cemetery at Dunkirk...”

Account #2
• 12 Feb 1945 Letter
FROM: Captain Louis R. Wade (Yuma Army Air Field, Yuma, Arizona)
TO: Bernard Caldwell, Jack’s brother.
Description:
“...These details were given to me by two combat returnees who participated in that particular raid.

Colonel Caldwell was leading two groups of approximately 108 ships to an airfield in Holland. The target was successfully bombed and although moderate flack was encountered, all ships were known to have left the enemy coast. When they were just half-way back across the North Sea a large formation of German fighters dove out of the sun and in their one and only “pass” they shot down four B-26’s – one of which was piloted by Colonel Caldwell. His ship went out of control and spun into the sea. No parachutes were reported for any of the Marauders that went down”.

Account #3
• 28 Feb 1945 letter
FROM: Captain Louis R. Wade (Yuma Army Air Field, Yuma, Arizona)
TO: Bernard Caldwell, Jack’s brother.
Description:
“The information you received from General S. E. Anderson is undoubted correct and the first details I had regarding the mission on which Col. Caldwell was reported missing were identical with those he gave. Both reports are accurate for two missions in so far as a Group Commander was reported missing, however there can be no questions that your brother was leading the mission to the heavy gun installations at Dunkirk.

I mentioned these facts to the two officers who participated in the mission to Holland but they were insistent that Col. Caldwell had been shot down while leading them. Because of their sincerity, I was inclined to believe them. It is clear now that they were mistaken...”

Our group was scheduled and briefed on all of the gun installations at Dunkirk and Calais but the mission was recalled because of weather. Also, most of us always considered that three ships were lost on the mission to Dunkirk because two were forced to crash-land on the English coast and flak damage was such that they were never returned to their base...”

Account #4
• 1990 to 2005, discussions between Jack’s brother, Bernard, and me.
Description:
Jack died in a secret mission flying to or over Germany...flying an aircraft alone, filled with fuel....plane exploded in mid-air.

Will I ever find the truth? Where can I find this information?

1. 1/Lt Benjamin E. Mann was a cameraman on board another plane in the formation on 12 Apr 1944. He filmed the loss of Jack’s plane. Has this film survived, and if it has, where it can be found today?

2. General S. E. Anderson: Is he still alive? Are his records available for research?
He spoke to Bernard Caldwell, Jack’s eldest brother. In 1945, General Anderson provided Bernard an account of Jack’s last mission that was different than that which was officially published.

3. John R. McGhee, Jr, 1st Lt. with the 558th.
He was the airman who parachuted out of Jack’s plane and survived. Is he still alive? Are his records available for research? Did he write the following Individual Casualty Questionnaire?



So far, this is an outline of the information I have gathered about Jack:

Col. Jack E. Caldwell
Born: 22 Feb 1912, Colton, California
From: Searcy, Arkansas

History (very sketchy)
1937 Graduated from West Point
1939-42 US Army Air Corps, Philippines: Nichols Field, Clark Field, Bataan, Cebu, Minanao.
1942 Volunteered for European Theatre
11/8/43 Joined the IX BC, 98 BW (Medium), 387th BG, 559th BS: Chipping Ongar, Essex, England
Served as Group Commander of the 387th BG
4/12/44 MIA.
MACR: #3745
B-26: 42-107581 TQ-Y of 387th BG 558th BS, named “Black Jack”
Target: Dunkerque coastal defenses

Any way I can find out about Jack’s involvement in the Philippines?

So many questions I have asked. In advance, thank you for your assistance.

Cherlyn Caldwell

 
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