Thiele, Keith Frederick "Jimmy"
- Date of birth:
- February 25th, 1921 (Christchurch, New Zealand)
- New Zealander (1907-1947, Dominion UK)
Jimmy Thiele worked as a reporter for the Star-Sun newspaper before the war. He enlisted in the RNZAF in December 1940. In april 1941 he received his wings and sailed for the UK. After being stationed at No. 22 Operational Training Unit, he was was posted at No. 405 (RCAF) Squadron which was equipped with Halifaxes and Wellingtons. He first served a tour of 32 sorties flying on targets such as Germany and France, among them Berlin, Hamburg, St. Nazaire and Cherbourg.
Thereafter, Thiele was rested for one or two months after which he volunteered for a second tour, being posted at No. 467 (RAAF) Squadron, a Lancaster unit. He flew 24 sorties.
He then transfered to Fighter Command and converted to Spitfires which was very unusual for a bomber pilot.
He was posted to No. 41 Squadron in February 1944 and flew nearly 100 missions on protecting Mitchells, "Rhubarbs" an finally on V1 reconnaissance missions. Next, in october 1944, a conversion to Tempests followed and a posting to No. 486 (RNZAF) Squadron.
On 10 February 1945, Thiele was shot down at low level by anti-aircraft fire, but managed to bail out of his burning aircraft. He was taken prisoner and sent to Dulag Luft near Wetzlar. The camp - and Thiele- was liberated a few weeks before the end of the war.
After the war Thiele flew until the mid 60's as captain with Qantas. Subsequently he became a yachtsman of considerable reputation. Thiele later built and operated a marina in Sydney after which he retired to Bundaberg/Queensland.
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- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Acting Squadron Leader
- No. 405 (Vancouver) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force
- Awarded on:
- August 11th, 1942
‘Squadron Leader Thiele has been attached to this squadron for eight months during which time he has completed 25 successful sorties. On every occasion he has shown great skill and has pressed home his attacks regardless of opposition. His keenness and efficiency have been an inspiration to other members of the Squadron. He has always been a leader and has just proved a thoroughly courageous and skilled Flight Commander. In view of this officer’s excellent record and number of operational trips, it is strongly recommended that he be awarded the D.F.C."
"This officer has, at all times, displayed outstanding keenness and determination during operations. The majority of his sorties have been attacks on well-defended and distant targets which have all been highly successful. On one occasion, during an attack on Berlin, his Rear-Gunner lost consciousness from lack of oxygen, but Flight Lieutenant Thiele proceeded with the mission although two of the crew were fully occupied with the unconscious man. Later he returned to this country at a very low altitude, in an attempt to succour the Gunner.
While on a flight to Nuremburg in March 1943, the port engine caught fire early on the outward journey. The flames were extinguished however, and the whole flight accomplished with success. His outstanding courage and devotion to duty and confidence have earned the admiration of all."
"Squadron Leader Thiele was Captain of a Lancaster of No. 467 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron detailed to attack Duisburg on the night of 12-13 May 1943. While over enemy territory, and nearly at the target, the Lancaster was badly hit by a shell bursting right underneath the fuselage, severely damaging the aircraft. This did not in any way deter Squadron Leader Thiele from carrying on to bomb his target. While doing his final bombing run-up, the aircraft was caught in a cone of searchlights at about 16,000 feet. Despite this, Squadron Leader Thiele maintained his straight run-up to the target, in order to ensure accurate bombing by his Bomb-Aimer, thereby displaying courage, determination and devotion to duty of the highest order.
Just as the Bomb-Aimer had let the bombs go, the aircraft was again severely damaged by shell bursts all round, one burst completely destroying the starboard outer engine. Squadron Leader Thiele, however, by expert airmanship, managed to feather this airscrew. Almost immediately afterwards the starboard inner engine was hit and put out of action. Again this officer showed complete coolness and airmanship of the highest order in managing to feather the second engine. The bursting flak had also smashed the entire perspex on the starboard side of the pilot’s cabin and Bomb-Aimer’s cabin, a shell splinter hitting Squadron Leader Thiele on the side of the head and dazing him.
Despite being hit himself, with both starboard engines useless and being still in the searchlight cone, Squadron Leader Thiele, in a dazed condition, managed by his coolness and skill to get out of this perilous position and bring his aircraft and crew back safely. He was unable to maintain height once over the British coast, but, in a display of utmost skill, crash-landed his aircraft at an aerodrome, without injury to any of his crew.
Squadron Leader Thiele throughout this entire sortie showed determination, exceptional valour, skill and devotion to duty which, it is strongly recommended, should be recognised by the immediate award of a Bar to the D.F.C."
"This officer, who has already completed two tours on Bomber Command, during which time he was awarded the D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, has, in a very short period, proved himself to be an outstanding fighter pilot. Despite very heavy enemy opposition, Flight Lieutenant Thiele has, by his courageous and skilful leadership and determination, destroyed and damaged 14 locomotives, numerous barges and vitally needed rolling stock and M.T. of the enemy’s hard pressed lines of supply. He has personally destroyed two enemy aircraft in aerial combat, one on the ground and shared in the destruction of another. His complete disregard for his own safety and his boundless energy have been an inspiration to the whole Squadron. I strongly recommend that he be awarded a Second Bar to his D.F.C."