Lifetime: 1891 - 1969 Passed: ≈ 54 years ago


Artist, Illustrator


United States

Clayton Knight

Clayton Knight was an American aviator during World War I. He was also an aviation artist and illustrator, and is known for being one of the founders of the Clayton Knight Committee and the illustrator of the comic strip Ace Drummond.

Rochester, New York was Knight's birthplace. He went to school at the Art Institute of Chicago under famous artists, Robert Henri and George Bellows, from 1910 to 1913. In early 1917, Knight's career as an artist in New York City was flourishing.

In 1917, Knight volunteered for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He was most interested in becoming an aviator. Along with 150 other American pilots, Knight was shipped off to England for training during 1917. In total, 2,500 pilots-in-training were transported to France and England. This was done to accelerate the pace of training. He started his training with the No.44 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, which was formed in Essex on July 24, 1917. This particular squadron achieved its first triumph on January 28, 1918. Knight also flew with the 206 squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, and subsequently, the Royal Air Force. He served with the British Second Army in France.

On October 5, 1918, Oberleutnant Harald Auffarth fired at Knight's plane causing it to crash. Knight was flying a British Havilland 9 at the time and, although hurt, he survived the crash landing on German territory. By the time the war ended, Knight was a prisoner of war at a German clinic. He was able to recuperate in a British ward.

The Clayton Knight Committee was terminated in May 1942. Between 1943 and 1945, Knight was an official artist for the United States Army Air Forces in Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and the Central Pacific. He worked also as an historian. His original artwork, personal diaries, and documents from the wars are held in the Air Force University Library and Historical Branch. Additionally, some of his papers are held by the University of Southern Mississippi's de Grummond Children's Literature Collection.

On July 10, 1946, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his service to England in World War I and World War II.

Knight's wife was Katherine Sturges Dodge, a fellow illustrator, artist, and designer. They had two sons, Clayton Joseph and Hilary Knight, who is the illustrator of the Eloise series of children's books.

Clayton Knight died on July 17, 1969, in Danbury, Connecticut.

Books by Clayton Knight

We Were There at the Normandy Invasion Cover image

We Were There at the Normandy Invasion

Adventure Action
War Historical Fiction Success America Invasion Experiences United States

It describes the experiences of the American airmen who participated in the Normandy invasion during World War II. The book was published in 1944, just a few months after the invasion, and it provides a firsthand account of the events that took place...