Skip to main content

William C. Lambert Papers

Identifier: MS-221

Scope and Content

The William C. Lambert papers consist mostly of correspondence. Also included are ink and chalk drawings, representing flights that William Lambert participated in. The collection also contains handwritten and typed manuscripts of his book Combat Report, and writings of interest to Lambert. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by its creator unless otherwise noted.

Series I: General Correspondence The correspondence contained in this series span the entirety of William Lambert's adult life, although the bulk of the letters were written after 1972, the year he published Combat Report. This is the largest series in the collection, and has been broken apart into four different time periods to make it more manageable for researchers: 1917-22 which is almost entirely made up of correspondence relating to the WW I; 1923-45 which is post-WW I through his service in WW II; 1946-72 from WW II until publication; and 1973-82 post-publication.

Series II: Correspondence to Mrs. Lambert The vast majority of the letters in this series were written by Mr. Lambert during World War II. In addition to these letters there are greeting cards from both Mr. Lambert and Clyda, Mrs. Lambert's daughter from her first marriage.

Series III: Professional Life The materials in the professional life series are from the 1930s and 1940s. Included are invention suggestions to automobile and aviation companies, patent correspondence, and letters from his employment from 1939 - 1941. Of note in this series are two letters that bear the signatures of Eddie Rickenbacker and J. Edgar Hoover, both of which can be found in Box 2, File 12.

Series IV: Publishing The bulk of the materials are from Mr. Lambert's first book Combat Report. Included are Mr. Lambert's letters to publishing companies and a literary agent, invoices and other sales records, and a typed and handwritten manuscript of Combat Report.

Series V: Photographs & Drawings The bulk of the photographs in this series are from World War I. There is also one 11 x 8 World War II portrait photograph, and the remainder are from later in his life. The drawings are all from World War I, and include ink and chalk drawings. One drawing has been separated from the main collection and is being stored in Oversize Location 25, File 5. The researcher should be aware that chalk drawings must be handled with care, as constant rubbing or friction could remove the imprint.

Series VI: Publications & Writing of Interest This series is made up of documents that Mr. Lambert chose to save throughout his lifetime. A sampling of the documents included are newspaper clippings, jokes, Patton's D-Day invasion speech, and a short story.

Series VII: Maps This series consists entirely World War I era large sized maps of Europe, France and Germany. Of note, the maps are in French and German. Due to their size the maps have separated from the main collection and are being stored in Oversize Location 78, File 8.


  • Creation: 1917-1982


Language of Materials

The records are in English, French and German

Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions were placed on the original donation. Since that time Mr. Lambert has passed away and there are no known descendants. See archivist for further information. Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of William C. Lambert

William Carpenter Lambert was born (but no record of his birth was recorded) on August 18, 1894 to William G. and Mary Lambert. He also had a younger brother Carl who was born in circa. 1895. He spent his early childhood in Ironton, Ohio. When Mr. Lambert was ten or eleven years old, an aviator brought a Wright Flyer to Ironton for a July 4th celebration. Lambert was given a ride and allowed to handle the controls. This early experience with aviation led to his career as an aerial fighter.

In 1915, Lambert quit his job as a chemist in Buffalo, New York and went to Canada to enlist in the British Artillery. Not immediately receiving an enlistment, he found other work. In 1917 he was able to join a Canadian training unit of the Royal Flying Corps, fore runner to Britain's Royal Air Force.

In four months, from April 7 until August 10, 1918, Lambert shot down 21 ½ German Aircraft. Two of them were balloons and half the credit for one plane went to another pilot. The British Air Ministry credits him with assisting in the destruction of three other enemy balloons. British records also show that during these four months, Lambert engaged in aerial activity thirty-two times. He was a leading World War I ace, have the second most kills of any American, (Eddie Rickenbacker had 26 kills).

Authorities agree there may have been more victories for Lambert, but record keeping of take-downs was sometimes lost during the heat of battle. In August of 1918, Lambert was hospitalized with combat fatigue and given home leave. He rested at his home for the remainder of the war. England awarded Lambert the Distinguished Flying Cross. Lambert would receive the award in 1919 in a private ceremony from the Prince of Wales at the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

After the war, Lambert spent a year barnstorming with air shows in the eastern United States. He also went into an airplane building business with a friend in Dayton, Ohio and flew the U.S. air mail route from Washington to Cleveland.

In the 1920s, Lambert enlisted in the U.S. Air Corps reserve. He was called to active duty in the early days of World War II, serving as an engineer. After the war, Lambert remained in the reserves until in 1954 when, at age 60, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

In 1973, William Lambert published a book concerning his war activities in western France entitled, Combat Report. In 1980 Lambert would publish a second book concerning his barnstorming days entitled, Barnstorming and Girls. Lambert also drew many sketches of his flying days, and later in life would sell various prints of them.

William Lambert married Chloe Forson (nee Hale) circa. 1921. Chloe had a daughter, Clyda M., from a previous marriage. Chloe died in Ironton in 1971. William Lambert died on March 19, 1982 at the age of 87. There are no descendants known to be living at this time.


2 linear feet


Papers include correspondence, photographs, drawings, and printed materials pertaining to Lambert's military service as a World War I flyer. Also included is a copy of Lambert's manuscript relating his combat experiences.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into seven series.

  1. Series I General Correspondence
  2. Series II Correspondence to Mrs. Lambert
  3. Series III Professional Life
  4. Series IV Publishing
  5. Series V Photographs and ink drawings
  6. Series VI Publications & Writing of Interest
  7. Series VII Maps

Other Finding Aid

A complete box and folder inventory for this collection is available on the Special Collections and Archives web site at

Acquisition Information

The original collection was loaned to Special Collections and Archives on October 9, 1978 by William C. Lambert. The addition was donated to Special Collections and Archives on March 15, 2006 by Samuel J. Wilson of Rio Grande, West Virginia. There are no known descendants.

Separated Material

A book on the Royal Air Force was included in the original accession of the papers and was cataloged and shelved in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room. Royal Air Force, 1918 edited by Christopher Cole, Call Number D602.C63

Processing Information

Processed by Susan Smith, November, 1978. Updated by Garret B. Kremer-Wright, 2005 and 2007. Addition processed by Matthew Francis, March 2006. Finding aid reformatted in 2014.

Guide to the William C. Lambert Papers (MS-221)
Finding aid prepared by Susan Smith, 1978
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2014: Revised by Toni Vanden Bos.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA