Oliver Moulton Chadwick was born in Lowell on September 23, 1888 to
Austin Kilham Chadwick and Julia May (Moulton) Chadwick. His father was
the President of the Lowell 5 Savings Bank. Oliver went to Lowell
schools and then, as was family tradition, he graduated from Phillips
Exeter Academy in 1907. He graduated from Harvard College 1911, where he
was a star athlete and Harvard Law School in 1914. He was employed by
Stone & Webster in Boston. He lived at the corner of Nesmith and Oak
Streets in Belvidere with his parents.
|Phillips Exeter Academy - Class of 1907 Yearbook|
was eager to join the war in France. He tried to join the Canadian Army
but was unable to as a U.S. citizen. He signed himself up at his own
expense at Curtiss Flying School in Newport News, VA and traveled to
France where he enlisted January 17, 1917 in the Lafayette Flying Corps,
French Army N.73 Groupe de Combat 12.
World War One was
the first war that used aircraft for combat. The planes were open
cockpit with no armor. A combat pilot had an average life expectancy of
40 to 60 hours airtime before being killed. Oliver was deemed to be one
of the most skilled in his unit.
He was shot down by a
German fighter pilot in Belgium near the front line on August 14, 1917
while on patrol. He was twenty nine years old. He was survived by his
parents and his sister, Frances who married his Harvard roommate, James
B. Long. He was also a cousin of Congressman John Jacobs Rogers.
|Source: Library of Congress|
The Germans recovered his body between the French and
German lines near his plane (SPAD), probably searched it for
intelligence and he was buried there near Bixschoote, Belgium. His grave
was marked by his friend and fellow flyer Charles J. Biddle. Charles
Biddle would survive the war and dedicate his book, "The Way of the
Eagle", to his friend Oliver. He lay in that grave alone until 1928
when he was moved to the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery that his
family contributed money to have the monument built and were present at
Sarcophagi for Oliver Moulton Chadwick at Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery in France
Listing on the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France
was awarded the Croix de Guerre with silver star June 7, 1919, also
awarded war medal by Aero Club of America in recognition of valor and
distinguished service January 1918, Camp Chadwick, a Boy Scout camp in
Dunstable was named for him and a centotaph in the Exeter Cemetery in
Exeter, NH. Camp Wah-Tut-Ca in Northwood, NH also has remembrances of
him. His papers are held with the Exeter, NH Historical Society.
Please remember this brave airman who gave it all. Lowell thanks you.