Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings

Weaver

A third-generation Oklahoman, Claude Ivan Weaver III ( 18 Aug 1923-28 Jan 1944) had distinguished roots. His grandfather (also named Claude), was a judge and a US Representative from Oklahoma, his great grandfather, WTG Weaver, a renowned lawyer, had been responsible for authoring the judiciary code of the Texas constitution and his father was the Assistant Attorney General of Oklahoma. But young Weaver eschewed a formal education (he dropped out of Classen High School in downtown Oklahoma City) in favor of adventure. In February 1941, a full 10-months before Pearl Harbor drew the United States into World War II, he volunteered for pilot training in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and although he employed subterfuge — claiming to be 18 and a high school graduate — white lies enabled by glowing letters of recommendation from esteemed family friends and associates, Weaver’s stellar health, his keen mind, sharp eyes and easy-going nature, guaranteed his acceptance and following training, he was assigned to a fighter squadron (No. 412) in England in October. The onset of 1942, however, would set him on a course with destiny. Given transfer orders for Malta, he arrived on the island on 15 July 1942. Within ten days, he had become an ace — the youngest Allied ace of the war (he was just 18 years old) — after shooting down five German Me109s. But on 31 July 1942, he was himself shot down by the German ace, Gerhard Michalski, and crash-landed on Malta. By the start of September his tally stood at 10 victories. He shot downed his 11th victim on the 9th, but was shot down himself over a beach in Axis-held Sicily. As his Spitfire floundered by the water’s edge, Weaver attempted escape when an Italian intelligence officer and troops arrived. “Why hello, Claude,” the Italian officer said. “How are you?” The officer later told Weaver that they had been listening in on his radio broadcasts. His award of the DFM was announced in absentia.

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