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The Airmen's Stories - F/O D C MacCaw


Derek Charles MacCaw was born on 27th August 1915 in Calcutta, the son of Captain Guy Hardy MacCaw MC (1886-1952), formerly of the 3rd Hussars, and Renee Minna MacCaw (nee Turnor 1892-1982).

Captain MacCaw's family owned the trading and jute industry company Kettlewell, Bullen & Company in Calcutta.

After a conventional career as a Lancers and Hussars officer Captain MacCaw entered the intelligence service and trained as a Russian linguist.




The details are naturally shadowy but he is believed to have been an aide to Lord Kitchener and Brigadier-General John Hanbury-Williams in negotiations with Russia during WW1.

The London Gazette recorded on 10th November 1915 that the King of Serbia had presented MacCaw with the 1st Class Order of the White Eagle.

Also on 16th May 1916 the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, presented MacCaw with the Order of St. Vladimir, 4th Class, with Swords and Bow.

He and his wife became estranged in 1931 after a dispute over their finances resulted in a court case. After this Captain MacCaw commissioned the building of a large yacht, the Altair. It is 41 metres long and was designed and built by William Fife & Son, of Fairlie, Ayrshire.

This yard has produced many classics and 'Altair' is now classified as a 'super yacht' and is still in use.


Above image courtesy of Superyacht Times.




DC Maccaw attended Marlborough College from 1929 to 1934 and then Kings College Cambridge, where he read Physics, Chemistry and Geography (see photos below).




He was a member of the University Air Squadron and learned to fly with the University Aero Club, he was awarded Aero Certificate 15189 on 18th June 1937. He then joined the RAF in June 1938 on a direct-entry permanent commission, one of a few offered each year to graduates of British and Commonwealth universities.



He commenced his service flying training at 13 E&RFTS White Waltham on 4th April 1938, moving on 20th June to 9 FTS Hullavington and recieving his flying badge on 16th September 1938.

In January 1939 he went to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum. MacCaw joined 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Hawkinge on 1st May 1939.

He went to France with the squadron on 27th September. MacCaw was taken ill and admitted to RAF Halton hospital on 15th January 1940, he was discharged on 8th February and assigned to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge as non-effective sick.

MacCaw joined 238 Squadron when it was reformed at Tangmere on 16th May 1940.

On 11th July he shared in the destruction of a Me110 of 9/ZG76 which made a forced-landing at Grange Heath, near Lulworth.

On 8th August MacCaw was shot down in combat over convoy Peewit, south of the Isle of Wight. He crashed into the Channel in Hurricane P3167.

MacCaw’s body was recovered by French villagers and he is buried in Senneville-sur-Fécamp churchyard in France.

The 238 Squadron ORB recorded:

F/O MacCaw came to the RAF through the University of Cambridge and had been with an Army Co-Op Squadron before coming to 238, of which he was an original pilot. Of Celtic colouring - blue eyes and black hair, which was already tinged with grey - his slightly dreamy, dignified personality is greatly missed. He was clearly material from which the best type of Officer is made.





Additional research and all images courtesy of Robin MacCaw, nephew.


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