Len Waters may have been born behind the gates of an Aboriginal reserve, but his big imagination and even bigger dreams took him soaring well beyond the reach of those who tried to confine him.
Kamilaroi man, Len Waters, dreamed of taking to the skies. It was an unlikely dream at the time, but during WWII he beat the odds to become Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot. Rules and restrictions controlled much of Len’s early life. Born in the 1920s, Len had a basic education and life was lacking in luxury. But Len had a sharp mind. He had a boundless work ethic. Len also had big dreams and a family who supported them. Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters - Boundless and Born to Fly takes readers on Len Waters’ soaring journey from making his home-made model aeroplanes at his kitchen table, to flying RAAF fighter jets in the south west Pacific in World War II.
Len was a history maker, a young man who didn’t let society’s prejudice, his culture or skin colour stand in his way. But when WWII was over, Len sadly discovered that his service and courage did not result in equality. Len once said that, out of his RAAF uniform, he simply ‘returned to being a black fellow’.
Today, decades later, Len’s determination and achievements are recognised and honoured across Australia.
Catherine Bauer is a journalist and writer from South Australia. She has worked as a news and political journalist and features writer, a government media adviser and currently works with the State Theatre Company South Australia. Her love of writing started as an eight-year-old where she wrote and illustrated her own book. She has now written and published three children’s plays and two picture books. Catherine aims for her stories to spark all or one of the following three reactions in readers: ‘that’s me’; ‘I wish that was me’ or ‘I’m glad that’s not me’. Her parents were both great story tellers and among her favourites, her father’s wonderful retellings about finding joy in small things, his enthralling adventures and often hardships of a childhood growing up in WWII Germany.
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