RAAF Pilot Promoted To Flight Lieutenant after 70 years!


After he was shot down over Germany, Ken Wright had to spend three years in a prison camp, reason for which he never got the opportunity to be promoted. It didn’t affect him that much so after he left prison he returned home to Australia.

He continued working for the Bank of NSW and married his wife Lola. The retired Flight Sergeant now lives at Avalon Beach, Sydney.

RAAF chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown organised an awarding ceremony for Mr Wright to receive his promotion at the RAAF headquarters in Canberra. The 93-year-old was surprised but extremely delighted to accept his advancement to the rank of flight lieutenant, the Geelong Advertiser reports.

His family worked together on the cause and organised his trip to Canberra, where the ceremony was taking place, while Ken Wright believed he was only being given a membership for the air force association.

Wright undertook his training at Tamworth and signed up for the RAAF in 1940. Then he started flying his Spitfire over Europe with the RAF Photographic Reconnaissance unit. He was offered a promotion in August 1942. “I applied for a commission, I thought I had applied for a commission. Meanwhile I got shot down and the squadron commander apparently threw the papers away,” said the WWII vet.

As soon as he was liberated from the prison camp, he went asking for his promotion but his commander said he should forget about it, and that is what he did. As nobody really cared about anything after the war, he decided he shouldn’t care either.

He was shot down over the Bremen Canal in Germany, on August 17, 1942. He was then captured by German soldiers and introduced to the man who shot him the day before – Lieutenant Dieter Gerhardt.

They had a long chat and decided one day they will be friends. That was before the German Lieutenant was killed a few months later.

Although he never flew an aircraft again, the greatest thrill of his life was flying his unarmed Spitfire for the first time.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE