RAAF pilot's wings brevet : Warrant Officer L V Waters, 78 Squadron, RAAF

Accession Number REL22229
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Badge
Physical description Embroidery cotton thread, Wool flannel
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 1939 - 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Pair of machine embroidered Royal Australian Air Force pilot's wings. The brevet has white cotton embroidered wings, a king's crown, and the letters 'RAAF' within a pale blue embroidered laurel wreath, on a dark blue wool flannel ground.

History / Summary

These pilots wings were issued to 78144 Flight Sergeant Leonard Victor 'Len' Waters of 78 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force. Waters was born on the Euraba Mission, near Boomi in New South Wales, on 20 June 1924, and worked as a shearer after leaving school before his fourteenth birthday. He joined the RAAF on 24 August 1942 and graduated from the Flight Mechanics Course in January 1943. He was later selected for aircrew training and graduated as Sergeant pilot. Posted to No.78 Squadron on 14 November 1944, he flew a total of 95 operational sorties over New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) in 1944 and 1945 from bases on Noemfoor, Morotai and Tarakan. Len has the distinction of being the only known Australian Aboriginal fighter pilot in the RAAF during the Second World War (there are another two known Australian Aboriginal bomber pilots, Squadron Leader D V Paul DFC and Flying Officer R Hill). His regular aircraft whilst flying with No.78 Squadron was a P-40N Kittyhawk fighter-bomber named 'Black Magic', with the Squadron code 'HU - E'. This aircraft had been named by a previous pilot in the unit who had transferred out of 78 Squadron. On 1 January 1946, Waters was promoted to Warrant Officer and seventeen days later on 18 January 1946 he discharged from the RAAF. He never returned to flying aircraft after the war and died on 24 August 1993 in Cunnamulla, Queensland. The manner in which a pair of Len's medals are mounted directly to the pilot's wings is unique and certainly not standard.