Keith Thiele, New Zealand WW2 pilot, Died at 94


Keith Frederick (Jimmy) Thiele was born on February 25, 1921, and died on January 5, 2016.

He was an officer of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) during the Second World War.

Keith was one of only four New Zealand born airmen to receive two medal bars to his Distinguished Flying Cross.

Thiele was educated at Waltham Primary and Christchurch Boys’ High Schools.

Keith served as a junior reporter on Christchurch’s Star-Sun Newspaper when the war was declared.

Keith was 19 when he joined the RNZAF in December 1940.

After completing the pilot training course in Harewood in April 1941 with the rank of pilot officer, he was sent to England in June 1941 where he was seconded to the Royal Air Force.

He was set to Canadian No. 405 Squadron at RAF Pocklington.

After completing a further 25 missions, in August 1942, he would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Then he went on to Australian No. 467 Squadron stationed at RAF Bottesford.

After he completed 20 more missions and in May 1943, he declined a posting to No. 617 Squadron under the command of Guy Gibson,

After the war, Thiele moved to Sydney, Australia and for many years flew as a senior captain for Qantas.

Keith was also a member of the Caterpillar Club, an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft

Keith Thiele later built and operated a marina in Sydney and sailed his own yacht across the Tasman Sea to see New Zealand’s first America’s Cup defense when he was 80.

Thiele old all his medals at auction.

In later life, Thiele retired to the Queensland town of Bundaberg, in 2005,

Keith Thiele passed away at 94 yrs old, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 5 January 2016.