Squadron Leader F A O (Tony) Gaze OAM, DFC and 2 bars, sadly passed away on the 29th of July 2013 at Geelong Victoria at the age of 93.
Tony was a highly decorated and colorful Australian Warbird pilot of WW11. He joined the RAF in 1940 (as he was at the time studying at Cambridge University) and graduated from No 5 service Flying Training school on the 8th January 1941 having accumulated just over 120 hours flying time. Following this period of training he went on to 57 OUT at Hawden and was then posted to his first operational Squadron No610 at Westhampnett flying Spitfire Mk11s. This Squadron was part of the famous Tangmere Fighter Wing and was led on occasion by the likes of Douglas Bader and Johnnie Johnson.
Upon taking up his role within 610 Tony quickly distinguished himself as a good pilot and by the time he left the Squadron in 1942 he had shot down German aircraft and been awarded the DFC, Tony was then posted to 616 Squadron as B flight commander and Johnnie Johnson was A flight commander flying high altitude versions of the Spitfire MkVI. By this time Tony had shot down 4 aircraft.
Later in 1942 Tony was promoted to Squadron Leader and took over 64 Squadron. Later Tony was posted to 453 (RAAF) Squadron and then on to 66 Sqn. Tony was shot down over France on 4 Sept 1943 and escaped with the help of the French Resistance through France and Spain over 8 weeks eventually returning to the UK and on to 610 Sqn and flew in the UK then Belgium, Holland and Germany as the war progressed – in fact one of his unique achievements was that he was the first allied airman to land back on the Continent after D-Day on !0 June 1944. On the 14th February 1945 Tony was also the first Australian to shoot down a German ME262 and later with 616 Sqn was the first Australian to serve on Meteor III jets operationally – At wars end Tony had a score of 11 kills and 3 shared and one V1 Flying Bomb plus 3 probable. He had also received many decorations including a rare 2 bars to his DFC.
Postwar Tony went on to lead a full and productive life as a motor racing driver and businessman.
A fuller version of his obituary and more details of his life can be found online at http://www.tonygaze.com/
Source material for this short memory of a great Australian Warbird aviator is courtesy of his website.
© John Parker 2013