One of the last surviving New Zealand pilots who served in Air Bomber Command in World War Two has celebrated his 100th birthday today.
Keith Boles’ big milestone was recognised around the world.
“We have a very special letter from a college in France that every year writes to living veterans,” son-in-law Andries Popping said.
The airforce came to celebrate along with proud family and friends.
His first posting was to the Royal Air Force Tengah air base in Singapore, but he was evacuated when the base fell to the Japanese in February 1942.
A cablegram made it through to family with two important words.
“He was just 21 - a couple of days after 21 - when he was evacuated on the Darvel and it was bombed by the Japanese as they tried to get away, they made several attempts, he is just very, very lucky to be alive,” daughter Sue Popping said.
He was then called to Britain, flying Mosquitoes in bombing raids in Europe later in the war.
“It was immensely important, bomber command had been fighting since the early '40s and pathfinder forces were there to mark the targets,” Michael Copsey from the NZ Bomber Command Association said.
A third of the 6000 Kiwis in bomber command lost their lives, with Boles helping campaign for recognition.
We're very grateful that someone has said we are bomber command,” he said in 2013.
Today those efforts remembered again.
“They put their lives at risk and sacrificed everything to give us our life we have today,” Copsey said.