News

Keith's Great Escape

World War II veteran Keith Thiele is humble about his adventure escaping from a prisoner of war camp.
World War II veteran Keith Thiele is humble about his adventure escaping from a prisoner of war camp.

By PATRICIA COATS

KEITH Thiele laughes at the idea he could be compared to Steve McQueen in the classic movie The Great Escape.

But the New Zealand pilot's story of escaping from a German prisoner of war (POW) camp during World War II is far more fascinating than fiction.

Mr Thiele, who settled in Bundaberg a few years ago, was bombing trains and transport vehicles in Germany for the Royal Air Force when he was shot down in 1945.

"I landed about 200 yards away from 200 Germans waiting for a train - you could wait for a train for 10 days to two weeks in Germany at that time,'' Mr Thiele said.

"Theirs had just come into view and I'd clobbered it.''

But this unfortunate turn of events did not cause Mr Thiele major concern - two months later he was back in England after having sneaked out of his POW camp, stolen a motorbike and ridden into Allied territory.

MR Thiele was 18 when he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1939, and after training in England he was seconded to the RAF.

By 24 he had received the Distinguished Service Order once and the Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars.

Although the POW camp was manned by a couple of German guards Mr Thiele and friend Terry Spencer had no problems escaping.

"We were worried about the retreating SS troops, we'd heard they were killing all the prisoners they found,'' he said.

So they sneaked out of the compound and down to the local village, where they took a motorbike and headed west.

"I had this little compass that fit just right between my toes and I had managed to keep it through all the searches,'' Mr Thiele said.

Mr Thiele eventually made it back to his base in Holland, surprising his mates.

"It was about six o'clock and I walked into the bar and slapped my CO on the back and said 'how 'bout you buy me a drink','' he said.

As one of New Zealand's most highly decorated airmen Mr Thiele received the salute of the Anzac parade in Bundaberg yesterday.



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Jobs galore for dive site off Bundaberg coast

Ex-HMAS Tobruk.

Major work for locals to get tourism to sea bed

New funding improves North Burnett disaster radio

FILE PHOTO: The council has received funding for a new digital radio system.

The council has received about $200,000 for the system.

Council signals more land rights agreements on the way

Bundaberg Regional Council mayor Jack Dempsey, Gladstone Regional Council mayor Matt Burnett and North Burnett mayor Rachel Chambers sign a land use agreement with the Port Curtis Coral Coast People.

This follows a historic signing last week.

Local Partners

Rob's off to start a fresh new chapter

AFTER more than three decades delivering fruit and vegies to loyal customers across Bundaberg, Robert Ward is packing up his ute and retiring.


Kernaghan's a 'boy from the bush' with a timeless quality

Country music singer Lee Kernaghan.

Lee Kernaghan is celebrating the 25th year of his breakthrough song.

What's on: Saturday, December 3

Not sure what to do today? We've got you covered

Head to the sugar museum for a sweet taste of history

Cutting the ribbon to officially open the revamped Sugar Museum at Fairymead House is Mayor Jack Dempsey and Fairymead House Team Leader Hayley Vale.

Learn about the industry that made Bundy what it is

Justin Timberlake stuns students with secret class

Justin Timberlake stunned high school students in Sydney

Carrie Fisher says Ford will be bugged by affair confession

Carrie Fisher is sure Harrison Ford is annoyed at her

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with childhood sweetheart

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with ex

Jennifer Lawrence apologises to the people of Hawaii

Jennifer Lawrence sorry for 'offensive' story

Cruz Beckham's single a 'one-off'

He is not planning to launch a full-time music career yet.

Louis Tomlinson's mother dies aged 42

Louis Tomlinson's mother has died.

Essential to get new Maroochydore CBD fundamentals right

LOOKING AHEAD: The central business district at Maroochydore is planned to be the heart of the Sunshine Coast.

SunCentral reports good progress on 53ha Sunshine Coast city heart

'Crucial' farm land eyed by defence department

Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.

"You can't have one without the other.”

Former Shark Show for sale for $1.3 million

Vic Hislop at the old Shark Show.

TALK about a jaws-dropping real estate opportunity.

There's a whole lot of luxury in this home

The Endeavour Foundation's latest prize home in Mountain Creek.

WHEN it comes to desirable homes, it's hard to go past a prize home.

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!