Guy Maynard Baldwin

(Williamsport, Pennsylvania, September 26, 1894 – LaPorte, Pennsylvania, July 1, 1969).1

Through his paternal grandmother, Baldwin could trace his descent from a Huguenot family (Du Pui) originally from Arras, a city with which Baldwin would become familiar.2 On his mother’s side, he was descended from a Corporal Lemuel Maynard who participated in an early phase of the Revolutionary War. Baldwins and Maynards had migrated from New England to Pennsylvania by the mid-nineteenth century; one of Baldwin’s great-grandfathers was among the earliest settlers of Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Baldwin’s father moved from Tioga to Williamsport in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, where he built up a successful business as a coal dealer.3

Oval portrait of the head and shoulders of a young man in a suit.
Baldwin in The Trinity Ivy 1918, p. 33.

Baldwin attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was a member of the class of 1917. He left to go to the officers’ training camp at Madison Barracks at Sackets Harbor, New York, in May 1917.4 On July 2, 1917, he, along with Wendell Ellison Borncamp, Lloyd Ludwig, Donald Swett Poler, and Donald Andrew Wilson, went from Madison Barracks to Ithaca, New York, for aviation training.5 They all graduated from ground school at Cornell on August 25, 1917.6

Along with three quarters of his classmates at Cornell, including Borncamp, Ludwig, Poler, and Wilson, Baldwin was selected for training in Italy and thus sailed with the 150 cadets of the “Italian” or “second Oxford detachment” to England on the Carmania, departing New York on September 18, 1917. They had the good fortune to be travelling first class. They were evidently assigned to staterooms initially in alphabetical order, but some horse trading ensued. Ludwig “exchanged with another fellow so as to get into the same stateroom with Andy and Baldy”; Robert Alexander Anderson had been at Cornell ground school with Baldwin and Ludwig.7 The Carmania, after joining a convoy at Halifax, set off for an uneventful Atlantic crossing on September 21, 1917. When she docked at Liverpool on October 2, 1917, the cadets learned that they were not to go to Italy after all, but to train with the R.F.C. in England. They attended ground school (again) at Oxford.

In a letter about his service written in 1920 to the Pennsylvania War History Commission Baldwin recalled that he and other men from Pennsylvania dined in the great hall of the college of Christ Church, where, among the many portraits along the walls, there was one of their state’s founder, William Penn, “who years before ate there himself.”8

After a month at Oxford Baldwin, along with most of the rest of the detachment, went north to machine gun school at Harrowby Camp, near Grantham, in Lincolnshire. Baldwin was among the fifty cadets selected later in November to go from Grantham to training squadrons, and he left for Wyton, about fifteen miles northwest of Cambridge, on November 19, 1917, along with Earl Adams, Anderson, Thomas John Herbert, and Stanley Cooper Kerk.9  He recalled in his letter from 1920 that he completed the course of preliminary flying training there on December 17, 1917, and that he reported to No. 56 Training Squadron at London Colney for advanced training on January 4, 1918.

By early March 1918 Baldwin had completed enough flying to be recommended for a commission. Pershing’s cable forwarding the recommendation is dated March 7, 1918; the confirming cable is dated March 17, 1918.10  Official records give March 28, 1918, as the date of his commission; typically some time elapsed between the confirming cable and official status.11 According to his letter to the Pennsylvania War History Commission, Baldwin went from London Colney to Turnberry on April 1, 1918, (the day the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force) and completed his advanced course on June 25, 1918; it is likely that he spend part of this period at Ayr, although he does not mention it.

On July 2, 1918, Baldwin was posted to the R.A.F. but then fell ill and was admitted to hospital on July 7, 1918. Recovered, he proceeded on July 19, 1918, to No. 85 Squadron R.A.F., an S.E.5 squadron stationed at that time at St. Omer.12

85 Squadron had earlier been commanded by William Avery (Billy) Bishop, who had bent some rules in order to take Elliott White Springs, John McGavock Grider, and Laurence Kingsley Callahan with him when the squadron left for France towards the end of May 1918. By the time Baldwin joined 85, Bishop had been ordered back to England and his place taken by Mick Mannock; Springs had been transferred to the U.S. 148th Aero; and Grider had been killed. Just a week after Baldwin’s arrival, Mannock was killed. Interest in and research related to No. 85 Squadron has focused on the period when Bishop, Springs, and/or Mannock were there, and it is difficult to find information on the squadron during the later period; efforts to find a squadron record book have been unsuccessful.13 It is fortunate, therefore, that, in addition to Baldwin’s letter to the Pennsylvania War History Commission, he also wrote a brief account of his time with No. 85 for inclusion in Warren P. Munsell’s account of American pilots who served with the R.A.F.:

I took my first trip over the lines on July 25th, but did little work with the squadron during the following two weeks. About August 7th, I began to go out on regular patrols. Our work on this front consisted of two shows a day, supposed to be offensive patrols. The front was quiet at the time, however, and my flight was never engaged in combat with enemy aircraft, until we moved south. We always carried two 25-lb bombs and dropped them on trains, sidings or dumps across the lines whenever possible. On one occasion, we went to Cambrai with three other squadrons, and bombed and shot up the railway sidings there, without meeting any resistance, except the usual Archie, whose bark was worse than his bite.14

In the above passage Baldwin has perhaps gotten ahead of his chronology. Cambrai would probably have been outside the area of operations of a squadron stationed at St. Omer and would have been a more likely target for planes from an aerodrome farther south once the Allied offensive had begun in early August 1918.

And, indeed, on about August 12, 1918, No. 85 moved from St. Omer about fifty miles due south to Bertangles, just north of Amiens, where, as Baldwin describes it, “the Australians, Canadians and British were hurling the Hun back along the Somme towards Peronne”; the Hundred Days Offensive had opened on August 8, 1918, with the Battle of Amiens.15 Baldwin writes in his account of his time with No. 85 Squadron:

The push was on at this point and things were livelier. We did two shows a day regularly, and, sometimes three. One show each day usually was an escort for bombing expeditions, during which we attacked and drove off Fokker biplanes which were diving on the bombing formation. The other show was either an offensive patrol or a ground strafing show. The offensive patrols, which consisted of two Flights, resulted in several dog-fights, and many short scraps, during none of which, I managed to shoot down enemy aircraft. The ground strafing expeditions were carried out in pairs. On these expeditions we carried four 20-pound bombs and bombed and shot up enemy transport and concentrations of troops, wherever seen.16

In the letter he wrote in 1920 to the Pennsylvania War History Commission regarding his service Baldwin remarks:

In considering the results of the air forces in the war we are too apt to compare only the number of enemy machines shot down with the number of air [our?] casualties. We do not consider the destruction of the enemies’ ground forces which we have accomplished and the cooperation and protection given to our own ground forces. If the destruction of Hun land forces due directly to British air activity and the number of lives of British troops saved thru their air cooperation are considered along with the British aerial victories the full success and achievement of the Royal Air Force will be realized.

While stationed with 85 at Bertangles Baldwin found that Archie’s bite could be as bad as his bark. On August 29, 1918, during an evening offensive patrol, he encountered anti-aircraft fire of such severity that his plane (S.E.5a D374) was determined not to be worth repairing; he, fortunately, was uninjured.17

Not long afterward, on September 5, 1918, No. 85 Squadron moved about forty miles east southeast from Bertangles to Savy, “to work on the Arras Front.”18

The day after we arrived there a spell of rainy weather set in which lasted about ten days, during which time we were unable to operate. About the 15th we began doing squadron shows, my Flight flying “on top” of the show, at about 19,000 feet. Enemy aircraft were plenty and always were encountered by some part of the patrol, many being shot down. My flight frequently dove into formations of Huns, and things were getting very warm, indeed, when I was suddenly ordered away from the British Squadron.19

Like Callahan, with whom he overlapped briefly at 85, Baldwin came to admire the R.A.F. “Those two months with a British service squadron were without doubt the most pleasant days of my army life. The good fellowship, esprit de corps, and morale of the British pilots was remarkable. The efficiency of the R.A.F., the cooperation between it and every branch of the army, the courage and gallantry of the individual pilots and observers, and the results accomplished in comparison with the casualties are worthy of the highest praise.”20

Baldwin was withdrawn from the R.A.F. on September 19, 1918, and on September 22, 1918, reported to the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center at Issoudun.21

[A] week later [I] was sent up to the replacement depot at Colombey-les-Belles for active service on the American front. There I learned that our government had purchased a number of British machines of the same type I had been flying on the British lines, S.E.5s, and that a number of us who had been flying them were to go to England, fly them across the channel, and then be formed into an S.E.5 squadron in the 4th pursuit group then being organized at Toul. We each made two trips back and forth to England, and on the day I started for France with my second machine the armistice was signed. However, we assembled the ships at Toul, and the 25thAero Squadron was formed which was stationed on Toul Airdrome till April 1919 when it was ordered home.22

The 25th did not receive its full complement of S.E.5s until well into November, but did became nominally operational, thanks to a flight over the lines on November 10, 1918. 23  Photos were taken of the squadron at Toul, and Baldwin appears on the far left in one of them taken in front of a Spad XIII as well as in a more formal group photo.24

While at Toul after the armistice, during the “long inactive winter,” Baldwin was pleased to be able to spend a good deal of time at Heudicourt, about twenty-five miles to the north, where the headquarters of the 28th Infantry Division, which had been formed from units of the Pennsylvania National Guard, was located. There he encountered “a number of very close friends whom I had not seen since the declaration of war”; these included his fellow Trinity alumnus Theron Ball Clement, son of the one-time commander of the 28th, Charles Maxwell Clement.25

Baldwin arrived back in the U.S. on June 6, 1919, and was discharged June 30, 1919. For a time he lived in Akron, Ohio, and worked for Goodyear. Then he returned to Pennsylvania and, like his father, went into the coal business, living initially in his hometown of Williamsport and then in nearby Laporte.26

mrsmcq April 19, 2017; October 4, 2017; August 15, 2018


(For complete bibliographic entries, please consult the list of works and web pages cited.)

1  For his date and place of birth, see, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, record for Guy Maynard Baldwin; for his date and place of death, see “In Memory,” p. 42.  The photo is cropped from a photo of the officers of the 25th Aero taken towards the end of November 1918.

2  See Baldwin, The Baldwin Genealogy from 1500 to 1881, p. 291, and Trabue, Colonial Men and Times, pp. 410 ff.

3  Information on Baldwin’s descent can be found in documents available at For a brief biography of Baldwin’s father, see Meginness, ed., History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, p. 911.

4  “In Memory,” p. 42.

5  “Cadets Enjoy Their Usual Sunday Rest.”

6  “Ground School Graduations [for August 25, 1917].”

7  Ludwig, diary entry for September 18, 1917.

8  The letter is part of, Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917–1919, 1934–1948, record for Guy Maynard Baldwin.

9  Hooper, Somewhere in France, letter of November 14, 1917; Foss, Diary, entry for November 15, 1917.

10  See cablegrams 694-S and 936-R.

11  See, Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917–1919, 1934–1948, record for Guy Maynard Baldwin.  Baldwin himself, in his 1934 compensation application, which is part of the preceding, recalled March 16, 1918.

12  Munsell, “Air Service History,” p. 225 (33).

13  See second page of “85 Squadron – party-hearties?” about these efforts.

14  This is among the “Extracts of Experiences of Individual Pilots” in Munsell’s “Air Service History.” Baldwin’s account is on pp. 249–50 (56–57); the passage quoted is on p. 249 (56).

15  The quotation is from Baldwin’s letter, in which he recalls moving on August 8, 1918; in his account in Munsell’s “Air Service History,” he gives the date August 12, 1918. Philppott, The Birth of the Royal Air Force, p. 419, gives August 13, 1918, as the date of the move.

16  From Baldwin’s account in Munsell’s “Air Service History,” p. 249 (56).

17  Henshaw, The Sky Their Battlefield II; information supplemented by Graeme’s contribution of April 17, 1918, to “85 Squadron – party-hearties?”

18    From Baldwin’s account in Munsell’s “Air Service History,” p. 249 (56). See also Philpott, The Birth of the Royal Air Force, p. 419. Baldwin, in his letter to the Pennsylvania War History Commission, recalls the date as August 30, 1918, when the “Squadron moved up near Arras where preparations were being made for a tremendous push toward Cambrai.”.

19  From Baldwin’s account in Munsell’s “Air Service History,” pp. 249-50 (56–57). Hillier’s edition of Springs’s War Birds includes some combat reports for this period on pp. 230 ff.

20  From Baldwin’s letter to the Pennsylvania War History Commission, cited above.

21  See Munsell, “Air Service History,” p. 225 (33), and Baldwin’s letter.

22  From Baldwin’s letter to the Pennsyalvania War History Commission. His work as a ferry pilot is documented in History of London Branch of the Supply Section and of Liquidation Section, chart 5.

23  “History of 25th Aero Squadron, (Pursuit),” pp. 5–6.

24  For other photos of Baldwin, see photo 75 (p. 49) in Doyle, “War Birds Pictorial,” and the photo of Baldwin in his S.E.5 “Tunis” at Toul on p. 277 of Rogers, “Another of the War Birds.”

25  See Baldwin’s letter cited above, and Wikipedia, “Charles M. Clement.”

26  On his dates of arrival and discharge, see his above cited letter. On his later life, see “In Memory” and “Baldwin House Historical Background.”