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Master of sky and track
SQNLDR Tony Gaze was a man
of firsts. He was the first Aus-
tralian to shoot down a German
jet and the first Australian to
fly the Royal Air Force's (RAF) first jet
fighter, the Meteor, in combat.
He was also the first Australian airman
to be awarded the Distinguished Flying
Cross (DFC) three times, albeit as a mem-
ber of the RAF and, after the war, he was
the first Australian to compete in a World
Championship Grand Prix. In 1960 he
became the first Australian to compete in
the World Gliding Championships, too.
The World War II fighter pilot Ace was
credited with 12.5 confirmed victories (11
and three shared).
Frederick Anthony Owen Gaze, son of
Irvine Gaze, was born in Melbourne on
February 3, 1920.
His father was 24 when, in 1914, he
was at Port Melbourne docks when Ernest
Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic
Expedition was a member short and Irvine
signed on. The expedition was a disaster
that turned into a British triumph, thanks
to Shackleton's epic 800-nautical-mile
voyage in an open boat to rescue his
men, including Irvine Gaze. Gaze and
Flew WWII combat
in Spitfires: Mark I
,II,V,VI, IX, XIV, XVI,
Cross three times.
Flew Mustang I,
and combat in
Meteor III jet
Credited: 12.5 com-
bat victories, mostly
German Me109 and
as well as German
Me262, Ar234 and
German V1 rocket,
plus another four
'probable' and five
Shot down in occu-
pied France and
First Allied pilot to
land in France after
Flew a range of
German aircraft after
WWII including Fw
Formula 1 Grand
Prix racing car
War II veteran,
and race car
away on July
29. He is pic-
with his biog-
August 29, 2013
others had been left behind at the base
camp established by Robert Falcon Scott
before Scott died in 1912 during his failed
attempt to be first to the South Pole.
SQNLDR Gaze could list his occu-
pation as "gentleman" on his passport
because of family firms, the Ezywalkin
Shoe Company and the Clifton Shoe
Company, and was a student at Queens'
College, Cambridge, when war broke out
in September 1939.
After joining the RAF and com-
pleting his training on Spitfires, he
joined 610SQN at Westhampnett, near
Goodwood, in March 1941 with his
younger brother Irvine Jnr, known as
Scott. In April 1941, Scott, 19, was killed
when his Spitfire was shot down.
The squadron was one of three that
formed the Tangmere Wing, led by the
famous Douglas Bader. Under Bader's
aggressive leadership, the wing flew over
northern France to engage the Luftwaffe.
SQNLDR Gaze achieved his first
success on June 26, 1941 when he shot
down a Messerschmitt Bf 109. During
July he accounted for two others, shared
in the destruction of a fourth and prob-
ably destroyed two more. These successes
resulted in the award of the first of his
On August 19, 1942, flying a Spitfire
with 616SQN, SQNLDR Gaze shot down
an enemy aircraft during the Dieppe opera-
tion and was awarded a second DFC for
his "great skill and fine fighting spirit". He
was then appointed to command 64SQN
equipped with the new Spitfire Mark IX.
In September 1943, forced to land
32km west of Dieppe following an intense
dog fight with the German ace Gerhard
Vogt, SQNLDR Gaze avoided capture and
was picked up by members of a French
Resistance organisation. After being shel-
tered in safe houses for several weeks,
he and other evaders were escorted to the
foothills of the Pyrenees. There, guides led
them into the mountains where they began
the arduous journey to Barcelona, Madrid
and, finally, Gibraltar, where SQNLDR
Gaze was flown back to England. He was
the first Allied airman to land back in the
UK after the D-Day raids in June 1944.
Returning to operations later in 1944,
SQNLDR Gaze was appointed a flight
commander on 610SQN. He shot down
a V-1 flying bomb over Kent before the
squadron was transferred to Holland.
SQNLDR Gaze became the first Australian
to down a German Messerschmitt Me262
jet before rejoining 616SQN. He was
awarded a second bar to his DFC on June
SQNLDR Gaze remained in the RAF
for two more years, flying the Meteor
jet and as a test pilot before returning to
Australia, where he joined 21SQN Citizen
Air Force and remained until 1951.
But it was not only flying that defined
this man. SQNLDR Gaze was also known
as the "godfather of Australian motor
He was drawn into motor racing
when he began a relationship with Kay
Wakefield, the 30-year-old widow of
Johnny Wakefield, a successful pre-war
English racing driver who was killed flying
with the Fleet Air Arm in 1942.
While based at RAF Westhampnett, he
suggested the idea of a motor racing track
around the perimeter of the airfield to Lord
Charles March, the Duke of Richmond
and owner of the land and, in 1948, the
first race was held at the newly named
SQNLDR Gaze returned home, taking a
pre-war Alta racing car with him and start-
ed racing on the Rob Roy hill climb outside
Melbourne. He married Kay in 1949 and in
1952 became the first Australian to com-
pete in Formula One racing at the Belgian,
British and German Grand Prix.
Three years later he launched
Australia's first international driving team,
Kangaroo Stable, the team that gave rise to
three-time world champion Jack Brabham.
In 2006, SQNLDR Gaze was awarded
the Medal of the Order of Australia for his
service to the Commonwealth.
SQNLDR Gaze passed away at his
home near Geelong on July 29, aged 93.
A memorial service was held in Corio on
Air Force legend SQNLDR Tony Gaze passed away
on July 29. Rosalind Turner, from the Office of
Air Force History, explains why he was such an
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