NEW ZEALAND AIRMAN
Awarded the D.S.O. a little more than a fortnight ago, Acting Squadron Leader Keith F. Thiele, D.F.C., formerly a reporter on the Christchurch "Star-Sun," has won a bar to the D.F.C. for his airmanship in bringing a badly damaged bomber home from Duisburg one night last month. He becomes New Zealand's ninth airman to win the distinction of triple-award holder.
The official citation sent from London to the Air Department, Wellington, tells a graphic story. "Acting Squadron Leader Thiele," it says, "was captain of a bomber attacking Duisburg, in Germany, on a night in May, 1943. Flak severely damaged the plane when near the target, but Squadron Leader Thiele flew on. On its bombing run the aircraft was shown up by searchlights, but the captain held to a straight course to make sure of accurate bombing. As the bombaimer completed his work the plane was repeatedly hit by bursting shells. One burst smashed an engine and soon afterward a second engine was put out
of action. The starboard windscreens of the pilot's and bomb-aimer's cabins were shattered and Squadron Leader Thiele was dazed when a splinter struck him on the head, but he skilfully extricated the damaged bomber from its perilous situation and set off to return to his base. Shortly after crossing the English coast he found it impossible to maintain height, but, displaying great airmanship, he struggled on and made a successful crash landing at an aerodrome. In most hazardous circumstances, Squadron Leader .Thiele showed courage, skill, and determination of a high order."
Squadron Leader Thiele is just over 22 years of age. Born in Christchurch, he was educated at the Waltham Primary and Christchurch Boys' High Schools. He left New Zealand as a pilot officer two years ago and was promoted to flight lieutenant in August of last year. In the same month came the announcement of his award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for conspicuous work in raids on Germany. His D.S.O. award last month-paid high tribute to his fine leadership and outstanding courage in attacks against distant and well-defended targets. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. C. Thiele, live at 159 King Street, Sydenham, Christchurch.
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THIRD AWARD, Evening Post, Volume CXXXV, Issue 130, 3 June 1943
THIRD AWARD Evening Post, Volume CXXXV, Issue 130, 3 June 1943
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