After working in his father's real estate business for a couple of months, Malcolm Clifford Howell, a native of Boonton, New Jersery, joined the Royal Flying Corps in July 1917. He was promoted to temporary 2nd Lieutenant (on prob.) on 27 Nov 1917. After training, he was posted to 208 Squadron in France but was injured in a crash on 15 May 1918. When he recovered, he rejoined his squadron and scored 5 victories flying the Sopwith Camel.