Dinger McCloud (1899-1972)

 

While warfare in WWI and WWII differed in many ways, air-based combat played an integral role in both wars.  The types of craft, methods of combat, and goals attempted in aviation went through many changes in the years between the two battles, but the fact remains that the military superpowers involved in the conflicts could not afford to rely solely on ground and naval-based missions to ensure their victories.  It was essential that they expand the battleground upwards, into the wild, blue yonder.

A name that is often neglected in discussions of both wars is that of Robert "Dinger" McCloud, who achieved the amazing feat of fighting in the British Royal Air Force in both WWI and WWII, despite his advanced age in the latter.  Throughout his two terms, McCloud's skill netted him an outstanding sixty-six air victories, and won him many accolades.

Sadly, McCloud rarely receives the recognition he deserves.  This is due in part to the fact that, unlike many other military heroes of his time, McCloud came from a comfortable, upper-class childhood.  The son of a wealthy factory owner, Dinger lived a relatively struggle-free life prior to his days in the RAF.  This is in stark contrast to other popular stories of the era, which often involved poor, desperate citizens enlistng and triumphing in the military.

While not a household name, Dinger McCloud will always remain one of the few soldiers in British military history brave enough to serve his country in not one, but two World Wars.  It is the humble opinion of this author that every patriotic man should be so lucky.