Tony Gaze

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Frederick Anthony Owen Gaze
Nickname(s) Tony
Born (1920-02-03)3 February 1920
Prahran, Victoria
Died 29 July 2013(2013-07-29) (aged 93)
Geelong, Victoria
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1940–1948
Rank Squadron Leader
Unit No. 57 OTU
No. 616 Squadron RAF
No. 131 Squadron RAF
No. 66 Squadron RAF
No. 41 Squadron RAF
Commands held No. 64 Squadron RAF
No. 610 Squadron RAF

World War II:

Awards Distinguished Flying Cross & Two Bars
Medal of the Order of Australia
Spouse(s) Diana Davison
Other work Motor racing driver

Squadron Leader Frederick Anthony Owen "Tony" Gaze DFC & Two Bars OAM, (3 February 1920 – 29 July 2013) was a very distinguished and decorated Australian, who was not only an Ace Fighter Pilot credited with 12.5 confirmed victories (11 and 3 shared), but who also was a well known and successful racing driver in the UK, Europe and Australia in the years following the war. [1]

Early life[edit]

Gaze was born in Melbourne on 20 February 1920, the son of Irvine Gaze, a member of the Ross Sea Party who were preparing for Ernest Shackleton's expedition.[2][3] He was educated at Geelong Grammar School, and when war was declared in September 1939 he was a student at Queens' College, Cambridge.

Military service[edit]

First success[edit]

Gaze joined the RAF in 1940, and on completion of training and with 122 hours flying time recorded was posted to No. 610 Squadron RAF at RAF Westhampnett in March 1941, flying cross-channel fighter sweeps. Gaze's first 'kill' came on 26 June when he downed a Messerschmitt Bf 109. The next month he claimed two further victories, one half and two probables. For these victories he was awarded the first of three DFCs. His brother, Pilot Officer Scott Gaze had joined No. 610 Squadron RAF with him in early 1941, but was killed in action on 23 March 1941. In November 1941 Gaze was posted to No. 57 OTU as an instructor.

He started his second tour in June 1942, with No. 616 Squadron RAF, flying the high altitude Spitfire Mk.IV. During the ill-fated Dieppe Raid on 19 August 1942, he received his second DFC after destroying an enemy fighter. In late August 1942 he was posted to command No. 64 Squadron RAF flying the new Spitfire IX.

Demotion and escape after being shot down[edit]

On 26 September 1942 Gaze led a wing of Spitfires in support of a bombing raid at Morlaix. An Eagle Squadron, No. 131 Squadron RAF, became scattered in high winds and lost 11 of 12 fighters. Gaze was made the scapegoat for the mission failure and was transferred back to No. 616 Squadron as a flight commander. It was later determined that the cause of the high losses on that mission were down to pilot inexperience and unexpected adverse weather.

After a rest from operations in early 1943, he again was posted to an operational Squadron in August 1943, to No. 66 Squadron RAF at RAF Kenley. On 4 September 1943 over Le Tréport after downing a Focke Wulf 190 Gaze's own Spitfire V was shot down by Heinz-Gerhard Vogt of II./JG 26 (his 14th claim of an eventual 48). Gaze crash landed 20 miles from Dieppe with slight injuries, evading capture and making his way, with help from the French Resistance, to neutral Spain.[4]

Back to Britain[edit]

In February 1944 Gaze joined the Air Fighting Development Unit (ADFU) at Wittering, rejoining No. 610 Squadron on the continent in July 1944. He claimed a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet shot down near Emmrich on Rhine on 14 February 1945 (a Me 262A-2 of I./KG 51 flown by Rudolf Hoffmann) (the first Australian to achieve this feat) and shared an Arado Ar 234 jet bomber on 12 April 1945.

The Me 262 victory resulted in Gaze being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the third time; one of only 47 men in the Second World War.[1]

After a month with No. 41 Squadron RAF in April, on 2 May 1945 he was posted as a flight commander to No. 616 squadron, becoming one of the first Australians (after F/O JN McKay, RAAF)[5] to fly the Gloster Meteor in combat during the closing stages of the war.

During the war he had also flown with some of the most famous names including Wing Commander Douglas Bader, top Allied ace Johnnie Johnson (38 victories) as part of the RAF's Tangmere Wing and Paul Tibbets, pilot of the 'Enola Gay', B29 Bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

List of air victories[edit]

Gaze ended the war as Australia's tenth ranking highest ace, claiming 12.5 confirmed destroyed (11 and 3 shared (note: below list includes the destruction of a V1)), 4 probables, and 5 damaged in 488 combat missions, all while flying the Spitfire.[6]

Victory No. Date Squadron Enemy aircraft Notes
1. 26 June 1941 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Me 109E Gravelines
Probable 26 June 1941 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Bf 109 Gravelines
Damaged 2 July 1941 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Bf 109 Lille
1.5 6 July 1941 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Bf 109 shared Lille
2.5 10 July 1941 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Bf 109 Hardelot
3.5 10 July 1941 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Bf 109 Hardelot
Probable 17 July 1942 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Bf 109 Le Touquet
4.5 18 July 1942 No. 616 Squadron Focke-Wullf Fw 190 Le Touquet
Probable 18 July 1942 No. 616 Squadron Focke-Wullf Fw 190 Le Touquet
5.5 19 August 1942 No. 616 Squadron Dornier Do 217 Dieppe
Damaged 6 September 1942 No. 616 Squadron Focke-Wulff Fw 190 St. Omer
Damaged 11 October 1942 No. 64 Squadron Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Dunkirk
Damaged 16 August 1943 No. 129 Squadron Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Eeckloo
6.5 17 August 1943 No. 129 Squadron Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Antwerp
Probable 19 August 1943 No. 129 Squadron Messerschmitt Me 109G
7.5 4 September 1943 No. 66 Squadron Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Beauchamps
8.5 5 August 1944 No. 610 Squadron V-1 Beachy Head, East Sussex, UK
9.5 January 1945 No. 610 Squadron Focke-Wulff Fw 190D On the ground
10.5 14 February 1945 No. 610 Squadron Messerschmitt Me 262 Emmrich on Rhine
11.5 10 April 1945 No. 41 Squadron Junkers Ju 52/3m Bremen-Nieuberg
12 12 April 1945 No. 41 Squadron Arado Ar 234 shared Bremen
12.5 28 April 1945 No. 41 Squadron Focke-Wulff Fw 190D shared Schwerin airfield
13.5 30 April 1945 No. 41 Squadron Focke-Wulff Fw 190D Elbe Bridgehead

Racing driver[edit]

Formula One World Championship career
Active years 1952
Teams Privateer Hersham and Walton Motors
Entries 4 (3 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1952 Belgian Grand Prix
Last entry 1952 Italian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 1956
Teams Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd.
Best finish DNF (1956)
Class wins 0

After the war Gaze became the first Australian to contest a World Championship motor race when he competed in the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix. His racing career saw him competing in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in open wheelers and sports cars.[7][8][9] Early in 1955 Tony helped to established Australia's first all Australian overseas racing team called 'The Kangaroo Stable' that included racing drivers such as Jack Brabham, Tom Sulman, David McKay, Les Cosh and Dick Cobden but after the tragic 1955 Le Mans race[10] many events in Europe were cancelled leading to the Stable disbanding later that year. He also helped establish the Goodwood motor racing circuit in 1948 by suggesting it as a potential replacement for Brooklands to the then Duke of Richmond. Today the Goodwood circuit is again a premier track as it stages the annual 'Goodwood Revival' meeting. Later he helped with the development of Australian motorsport and represented Australia in the 1960 World Gliding Championships in Germany. Gaze was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2006 New Year's Honours List for 'service to the sport of motor racing'.

He participated in four World Championship Grands Prix driving his HWM, debuting on 22 June 1952.[11] He also participated in numerous non-Championship Formula 2 races across Europe as well as competing in the Australian and New Zealand Grands Prix in the early 1950s.

Complete World Championship results[edit]


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 WDC Points
1952 Tony Gaze HWM Alta Straight-4 SUI 500 BEL
NC 0

Other results[edit]

Year Race Position Car Entrant
1956 Moomba TT 1st HWM Jaguar FAO Gaze

Personal life[edit]

Tony Gaze was married twice; to Kay Wakefield who died in 1976 and to fellow racing car driver Diana Davison who died in 2012. Davison was the widow of Lex Davison.[13] Gaze was also step-grandfather to the third generation of Davison racing drivers, Alex, Will and James.

Medals and awards[edit]

UK DFC w 2bars BAR.svg OrderAustraliaRibbon.png

39-45 Star BAR.svg Air Crew Europe BAR.svg Defence Medal BAR.svg War Medal 39-45 BAR.svg

UK DFC w 2bars BAR.svg Distinguished Flying Cross 1941 with Bars 1943 & 1945
OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Order of Australia (OAM) 2006
39-45 Star BAR.svg 1939–45 Star
Air Crew Europe BAR.svg Air Crew Europe Star
Defence Medal BAR.svg Defence Medal
War Medal 39-45 BAR.svg War Medal 1939–1945

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Squadron Leader Tony Gaze". The Daily Telegraph. 31 July 2002. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ross Sea Party". Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "Award for Son of Last War Flyer". The Argus. 19 January 1943. p. 4.  [1]
  4. ^ "Spitfire pilot, racing driver and the man who came up with Glorious Goodwood dies at 93". The Daily Mail. 30 July 2002. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  5. ^ The Telegraph (Brisbane. QLD), Tuesday 22 May 1945, page 2
  6. ^ "Gaze, Frederick Anthony Owen "Tony"". World War Two Awards. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Monte Carlo Rally Ford Zephyr Wins on Shell". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 July 1953. p. 7. 
  8. ^ Driving a British Alta in 1950 "Lap Record May Go at Bathurst". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 April 1950. p. 8. 
  9. ^ Drove a Jaguar in 1954 "Tricky Circuit Limits Top Speed". The Sun-Herald. 24 January 1954. p. 77. 
  10. ^ 84 spectators and a driver were killed.
  11. ^ "Drivers / 1952 / Tony Gaze". Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  12. ^ Small, Steve (1994). The Guinness Complete Grand Prix Who's Who. Guinness. p. 150. ISBN 0851127029. 
  13. ^ "Drivers: Tony Gaze". Retrieved 28 March 2016.