Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

Archives at The Museum of Flight

Archibald, Norman S., 1894-1975



  • Existence: 1894-1975

Biographical Note

Norman "Jim" Silas Archibald was a member of the 95th Aero Squadron during World War I and author of the book Heaven High, Hell Deep. Norman (April 7, 1894 - September 21, 1975) and Hazel M. Archibald Draper (March 28, 1891 - February 1973) were the only children of Silas Archibald and Elizabeth J. Langille Archibald, naturalized American citizens originally from Canada. A prominent Seattle family, the Archibalds built the St. Regis Hotel and lived at 1206 Minor Avenue in Seattle.

Norman Archibald (also known as "Jim") graduated from Broadway High School in Seattle, attended the University of Washington for two years, and graduated from Cornell University. When the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Archibald left home determined to become an aviator and fly on the front against the enemy. In July 1917 he enlisted in the Aviation Section Signal Corps and was ordered to Ground School at the University of Texas, Austin. In September he graduated as cadet and was ordered to Bedloe’s Island, New York. The following month he shipped out to Europe, traveling by train through Canada then by boat as part of a convoy with twelve other ships and naval escort to Liverpool, England. He then travelled through Southampton and Portsmouth to go by boat to Le Havre, France and through Orleans to reach the American Aviation Center at Issoudun. Major Carl Spaatz was the commandant.

Archibald was one of seventeen cadets chosen to train on the Nieuport, a French airplane with rotary motor. In December, Archibald had his first ride with his French instructor. The group was called “Suicide Club” by French instructors, and training included acrobatics, formation, and combat flying on Nieuports. In April 1918 he was sent to aerial gunnery school at Lake Cazaux, located ten miles from Arcachon, France, where he finished gunnery work and became a full-fledged fighter pilot (though still cadet, not yet having received his commission to 1st Lieutenant). On June 7, 1918 he reported to Issoudun for orders and was sent to American Aviation Acceptance Park No. 1 in Orly, France, where he ferried planes and flew various types of aircraft.

In July 1918, Archibald was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant and was ordered to the 1st Pursuit Group, 95th Air Squadron, on the Chateau-Thierry front. The Group consisted of four squadrons: the 94th, 95th, 147th and 27th. The 27th and the 147th flew in Nieuports while the 94th and 95th flew French SPADs with 220 H.P. Hispano-Suiza motors. They flew daily over enemy lines. In early September he relocated to a new field at Rembercourt in St. Mihiel sector and flew missions until he was shot down and taken prisoner at Etain by the Germans on September 8.

From his capture through November 27, 1918, Archibald was held as a prisoner of war in German camps. He was at Conflans, France for three days where he was examined and questioned. He was then taken to a prison camp at Montmedy, France. About ten days later he moved to Karlsruhe, Germany where he was held for another ten days before being moved to Landshut, Germany. Ten days later he was moved to Villingen, Germany where he remained for the rest of the war.

On October 3, 1918 a note written by Archibald was dropped by a German aviator and sent by Capt. Peterson, Commanding Officer of the 95th, through the office of the Chief of Air Service, First Army, and finally on to his father. On October 6 a letter was sent to his father notifying him of Norman Archibald’s status as prisoner of war.

The Armistice was signed on November 11, but Archibald wasn’t released until November 28. He was taken by train under guard to Constanz, Switzerland and was held for two days before being moved by train to Bellegarde, France (on the French/Swiss border). From there he was moved by Red Cross Hospital train to Base Hospital at Allerex, France and then on to Paris.

Archibald's sister Hazel had meanwhile joined the Red Cross as a nurse and was able to meet her brother at Tours, France after his release from the prison camp. Archibald was sent to New York and discharged as 1st Lieutenant, Air Service Aeronautics, at the Air Service Depot in Garden City, Long Island, New York. In Fall 1919 a letter was sent from Chief, Effects Bureau, Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, New Jersey to Mr. Silas Archibald informing him that they had “received at this office the personal effects of the late 1st Lt. Norman S. Archibald, and enclose herewith a Certificate of Family, which when filled out, will enable us to determine the soldier’s legal heirs.” On September 24 Norman Archibald replied and informed them that he was alive and living with his father, whereupon 1st Lt. Archibald received a subsequent letter from the Chief Clerk, Mr. Edw. L. Johnson of the Effects Bureau starting, “We are in receipt of your letter of recent date, and are glad to hear that you are alive.”

Archibald recounts his experience, from his decision to become an aviator in 1917 through his reunion with his sister Hazel in France after his release, in his 1935 book Heaven High, Hell Deep. The book was published by Albert and Charles Boni, Inc., New York and was on the bestseller list for two weeks.

Archibald returned to military service in September 1942, receiving a commission as captain in the United States Air Force. He was briefly stationed at the Officer Training School in Miami Beach, Florida and the Army Aviation Flying School in Orlando, Florida where he did a Survey Course. He then served in the Seattle Fighter Wing, 4th Air Force as Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. He was sent back to Orlando for special courses and discharged with rank of Major, A.C. on September 26, 1945.

Norman Archibald died in 1975 in Seattle, Washington. The Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation was established in 1977 to support youth and child development programs, higher education and libraries, museums and the performing arts, and family and social services in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

Sources and Further Information:

Norman Archibald, Heaven High, Hell Deep, 1917-1918. New York : A.C. Boni, 1935.

Norman Archibald Military Service based on article by Jack Eder, written for Cross & Cockade Journal Vol. 18, No. 3, Autumn 1977.

Harold Buckley, Squadron 95. Paris : The Obelisk Press, 1933.

US 95th Aero Squadron (

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Biographical Information Files - A

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with A: Aanenson, Quentin [U.S. Army Air Corps pilot] Clipping, "A Fighter Pilot's Story," Museum of Flight News, October 10, 2000 Abbey, George [Program Manager at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)] Article, "Mr. Inside," Air & Space Magazine, August 1, 2011 Abruzzo, Ben [Balloon pilot] ...

Norman "Jim" S. Archibald Collection

Identifier: 1986-10-10A
Abstract Norman "Jim" Silas Archibald (1894-1975) of Seattle, Washington served in the U.S. Army Air Service, 95th Aero Squadron during World War I, and later published a bestselling book on his experience. He served again in the Air Force during World War II at home in Seattle. The collection contains correspondence, military documents, photographs, and other materials relating to Archibald's life and military service.

Hazel M. (Archibald) Draper Scrapbook Page

 Collection — Box: World War I Oversize Box 1, oversize: folder
Identifier: 2021-00-00-37
Content Description The Hazel M. (Archibald) Draper Scrapbook Page is a small collection consisting of one oversize scrapbook page documenting Draper's time serving with the Red Cross and her brother Norman Archibald's military service during World War I.The scrapbook page inludes: a clipping of the masthead from the Seattle Sunday Times from June 14, 1919 promoting an article by Draper; a clipping from the June 29, 1919 Seattle Sunday...

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
Contact us with a research request