Returned from Active Service badge: Warrant Officer Leonard Victor Waters, 78 Squadron, RAAF

Accession Number REL22231
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Badge
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Bronze tri-service badge with combined anchor, rising sun and wings surmounted by a king's crown. Underneath is a boomerang with the words 'RETURNED FROM ACTIVE SERVICE'. The reverse is stamped with the maker's details and the serial number '85570'.

History / Summary

Returned from Active Service badge issued to 78144 Warrant Officer Leonard Victor 'Len' Waters for his service with 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.