Tony Gaze

Last updated

Frederick Anthony Owen Gaze
Born(1920-02-03)3 February 1920
Prahran, Victoria, Australia
Died29 July 2013(2013-07-29) (aged 93)
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service1940–1948
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
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross & Two Bars
Medal of the Order of Australia
Spouse(s) Diana Davison
Other workMotor racing driver

Frederick Anthony Owen "Tony" Gaze, DFC & Two Bars , OAM (3 February 1920 – 29 July 2013) was an Australian fighter pilot and racing driver. He flew with the Royal Air Force in the Second World War, was a flying ace credited with 12.5 confirmed victories (11 and 3 shared), and later enjoyed a successful racing career in the UK, Europe and Australia. [1] He was the first ever Australian to take part in a Formula One Grand Prix.


Early life

Gaze was born in Melbourne, Victoria, 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

First success

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

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 due to pilot inexperience and unexpected adverse weather.

After a rest from operations in early 1943, he was again posted to an operational Squadron in August 1943, 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, evaded capture and made his way, with help from the French Resistance, to neutral Spain.[ citation needed ]

Back to Britain

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) [4] 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

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 Supermarine Spitfires of various Marks. [5]

Victory No.DateSquadronEnemy aircraftNotes
1.26 June 1941No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Me 109EGravelines
Probable26 June 1941No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Bf 109Gravelines
Damaged2 July 1941No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Bf 109Lille
1.56 July 1941No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Bf 109 sharedLille
2.510 July 1941No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Bf 109Hardelot
3.510 July 1941No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Bf 109Hardelot
Probable17 July 1942No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Bf 109Le Touquet
4.518 July 1942No. 616 SquadronFocke-Wullf Fw 190Le Touquet
Probable18 July 1942No. 616 SquadronFocke-Wullf Fw 190Le Touquet
5.519 August 1942No. 616 SquadronDornier Do 217Dieppe
Damaged6 September 1942No. 616 SquadronFocke-Wulff Fw 190St. Omer
Damaged11 October 1942No. 64 SquadronFocke-Wulf Fw 190Dunkirk
Damaged16 August 1943No. 129 SquadronFocke-Wulf Fw 190Eeckloo
6.517 August 1943No. 129 SquadronFocke-Wulf Fw 190Antwerp
Probable19 August 1943No. 129 SquadronMesserschmitt Me 109G
7.54 September 1943No. 66 SquadronFocke-Wulf Fw 190Beauchamps
8.55 August 1944No. 610 SquadronV-1Beachy Head, East Sussex, UK
9.5January 1945No. 610 SquadronFocke-Wulff Fw 190DOn the ground
10.514 February 1945No. 610 SquadronMesserschmitt Me 262Emmrich on Rhine
11.510 April 1945No. 41 SquadronJunkers Ju 52/3mBremen-Nieuberg
1212 April 1945No. 41 SquadronArado Ar 234 sharedBremen
12.528 April 1945No. 41 SquadronFocke-Wulff Fw 190D sharedSchwerin airfield
13.530 April 1945No. 41 SquadronFocke-Wulff Fw 190DElbe Bridgehead

Racing driver

Formula One World Championship career
Active years 1952
TeamsPrivateer Hersham and Walton Motors
Entries4 (3 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Career points0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1952 Belgian Grand Prix
Last entry 1952 Italian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Teams Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd.
Best finishDNF (1956)
Class wins0

In 1946, Gaze suggested to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, better known as "Freddie March", that the roads around RAF Westhampnett would be a good location for a racing track. Acting on this suggestion, March opened the Goodwood Circuit in 1948. [6] [7]

Gaze returned to Australia after the war, and began racing an Alta racing car that he brought with him. [6] [8]

He raced an Alta Formula 2 in Europe for the 1951 season, switching to an HWM-Alta for the following season, planning to racing again in F2. [6] When the sports governing body decided to change the World Championship regulations from Formula One to Formula 2, [9] Gaze’s plans changed as well. He took part in a number of non-championship F1 events, and then in June travelled to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the Grote Prijs van Belgie. After qualifying the HWM-Alta 16th, he raced one place better, attaining 15th place. [10] By racing in Spa, Gaze became the first Australian to contest a World Championship motor race. [11] This was followed by appearances in the RAC British Grand Prix [12] and the Groβer Preis von Deutschland, [13] although he failed to qualify for the Gran Premio d’Italia. [11] [14]

The following year, he was a member of the first Australian crew to attempt the Rallye Monte Carlo in a Holden FX with Lex Davison and Stan Jones. [15] [16] At one point, the trio was in the top ten, but finished the event in 64th. [8] Also that season, he raced an Aston Martin DB3 in sports car events across Europe, [11] and survived an accident in the Grande Prémio de Portugal, when his car struck a tree after a collision with a Ferrari. He was thrown clear as the Aston flipped over and burst into flames. Gaze was carried to safety by spectators, and suffered only cuts and bruises. [17]

In 1954 and 1955, Gaze raced the ex-Ascari Ferrari 500 F2 in non-championship events in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. [8] [11] On his return to England, he set up the Kangaroo Stable, the first Australian international racing team. One team member was a young Jack Brabham. They ran Aston Martin DB3S. [11] [17] However, many races were cancelled after the Le Mans disaster, and the Stable disbanded at the end of the season. [8] Gaze continued to race for another season. [18]

Racing record

Career highlights

1954 Lady Wigram Trophy [19] 2nd HWM-Alta
New Zealand Grand Prix [20] 3rd HWM-Alta
1955 Les 12 Heures d’Hyères [21] 2ndKangaroo Stable Aston Martin DB3S
New Zealand Grand Prix [22] 3rd Ferrari 500/625
1956Dunedin Road Race [23] 1st Ferrari 500/750S
Moomba TT [24] 1stFAO Gaze HWM-Jaguar
New Zealand Grand Prix [25] 2nd Ferrari 500/750S
Lady Wigram Trophy [23] 2nd Ferrari 500/750S
Southland Road Race [23] 2nd Ferrari 500/750S
Ardmore Grand Prix [26] 3rd HWM-Jaguar
Argus Cup [27] 3rd HWM-Jaguar

Complete Formula One World Championship results


1952 Tony Gaze HWM Alta Straight-4 SUI 500 BEL
Source: [28]

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

1956 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dickie Stoop Frazer Nash Sebring S2.0101DNF

Complete 12 Hours of Reims results

1954 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg H. W. Motors Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Graham Whitehead HWM-Jaguar 2067th7th

Complete 12 Hours of Hyères results

1953 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Graham Whitehead Aston Martin DB3 DNF
1954 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg H.W. Motors Flag of the United Kingdom.svg George Abecassis HWM-Jaguar DISQ
1955 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Kangaroo Stable Flag of Australia (converted).svg David McKay Aston Martin DB3S S+2.02202nd2nd

Complete 12 Hours of Pescara results

1953 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Tom Meyer Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Tom Meyer Aston Martin DB3 S+2.0?th3rd

Complete Rallye de Monte Carlo results

1953 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Lex Davison
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Stan Jones
Holden FX 64th


After a conversation with Prince Bira, who was an avid glider competitor, Gaze tried his hand at the sport. He became an active member of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Gliding Club, at Nympsfield and went on to represent Australia in the 1960 World Gliding Championships, which was held at the Butzweiler airfield, near Köln. [8]

Personal life

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. [29] Gaze was also step-grandfather to the third generation of Davison racing drivers, Alex, Will and James.

See also

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  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.
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  15. "MONTE-CARLO RALLY - FORD ZEPHYR WINS on SHELL - The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) - 1 Jul 1953". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  16. Galpin, Darren. "1953 Miscellaneous Rallies". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  17. 1 2 "Tony Gaze Memorial service". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  18. "Tony Gaze (AUS) - All Results - Racing Sports Cars". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  19. "1954 Other Races". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  20. "1954 NZGP". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  21. "Hyères 12 Hours 1955 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  22. "1955 NZGP". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  23. 1 2 3 "1956 Other Races". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  24. "Moomba TT 1956 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  25. "1956 NZGP". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
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  27. "Albert Park Argus Cup 1956 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
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Further reading