Kiwi WWII hero dies in Australia

3:55 pm on 14 January 2016

Keith Thiele, one of New Zealand's greatest World War II pilots, has died in Sydney at the age of 94.

Keith Thiele in 1941 in RAF uniform.

Keith Thiele in 1941 in RAF uniform. Photo: Supplied

Born in Christchurch, Thiele was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and was the only New Zealand flier to win a DFC on both bombers and fighters.

He completed two tours with Bomber Command in 1942 and 1943, flying from England with Canadian and Australian squadrons and emerging unscathed from more than 50 operations.

He twice brought damaged Lancasters home on two engines from Germany after the aircraft were badly damaged by enemy fire.

Thiele later converted to fighters and was shot down over Germany and taken prisoner, but was only held captive for a few weeks before escaping from a hospital and getting back to Allied lines to rejoin his squadron.

After the war he flew as a senior captain for Qantas and later established the large marina at Spit Junction in Sydney.

Thiele is survived by his daughter Jo and grandchildren.

His death on 5 January was disclosed last night by family members who said a private funeral service had been held in Sydney.