A tribute to Gus Winckel

March 3, 1942, exactly 74 years ago today, one of the amazing feats of the Pacific War took place. Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zero” fighters strafed Broome Airfield, in the Australian North West territory.
There were no fighters, there was no Ack Ack… but there was Gus Winckel!


Flight Lt. Gus Winckel in 1942

He had just landed his ML-KNIL Lodestar, crammed with 22 refugees from Java, when the raid on Broome started. Infuriated he grabbed a dismounted Colt .303 machinegun and ran into the field. He came just in time.
Somehow a USAAF B24 bomber had managed to take off but Warrant Officer Osamu Kudo went after it in his “Zero” and sent it crashing into the bay, taking its crew and 30 wounded passengers to a flaming death. Kudo then made a second pass over Broome airfield and Gus Winckel fired the heavy machine gun in authentic “Rambo”style from his hip. He riddled Kudo’s fighter with a stream of .303 bullets and the Zero exploded and it plunged flaming into Roebuck Bay. According to post-war accounts he must have hit some  of the other fighters as well, since one of them had to ditch in the Timor sea and others arrived bullet-holed at Kupang, Timor.

Gus’ hands and arms had to be treated for second degree burns but it did not prevent the Allied command to send him and his (only slightly damaged) Lodestar back to Java on March 5 to pick up some senior RAF and RAAF brass. He did so under protest and managed to land in the dark on Bandung’s Bua Batu Road – only helped by vehicle headlights – refuel, pick up the officers and return to Australia on March 6…

Gus later joined No. 18 (NEI) Squadron


Flight Lt. Gus Winckel in 1942, seen here with WAAF Jean Agnew (middle) and fellow No. 18 Sqn pilot Lennard Dal (left)  Source: Australian War Memorial

A thankful Broome did not forget him


Here’s Gus in 2012 – standing right under a sign indicating the road named in his honour. And Broome is not the only Australian town honouring this wild young pilot. Following the Broome air raid Gus Winckel was based out of Moruya in New South Wales from where he flew patrols of eastern Australia. It was on one of these patrols that Gus Winckel is credited with sinking a Japanese submarine.


And here is Gus, standing next to his statue  in Moruya, to remember his bravery and that of the other airmen who fought in WWII.

Gus died on August 17, 2013 (aged 100) at Pukekohe, New Zealand




About Kingsleyr

Thank you for visiting my blog! The posts you find here are a direct result of my research into aviation and military history. I use the information I gather as a foundation and background for my books. You may call the genre historical fiction, a story woven into a background of solid and verifiable historical facts. However, the period and region I have chosen to write about (late 1930's - 1950's in South-East Asia) are jam-packed with interesting information and anecdotes. If I'd used them all I would swamp the stories. So this blog is the next best thing. It is an "overflow area" in which I can publish whatever I think will interest you. And from the reactions I get, I deduce I am on the right track. A lot will be about aviation in the former Dutch East Indies. This, because my series of books ("The Java Gold") follows a young Dutch pilot in his struggle to survive the Pacific War and its aftermath. But there's more in the world and you'll find descriptions of cities, naval operations and what not published on this blog. Something about myself; I am a Dutch-Canadian author, living in, and working out of the magical city of Amsterdam. My lifelong interest in history and aviation, especially WW2, has led me to write articles and books on these subjects. I hope you'll enjoy them!
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One Response to A tribute to Gus Winckel

  1. GP Cox says:

    He will be remembered!


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