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Richard Bolt (RNZAF officer)

Air Marshal Sir Richard Bruce Bolt, KBE, CB, DFC, AFC (16 July 1923 – 27 July 2014) was a bomber pilot in the Second World War and a senior Royal New Zealand Air Force officer in the post-war years. He was Chief of the Air Staff from 1974 to 1976 and Chief of the Defence Staff from 1976 to 1980, when he retired from the military.

Sir Richard Bolt
Born(1923-07-16)16 July 1923
Auckland, New Zealand
Died27 July 2014(2014-07-27) (aged 91)
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
AllegianceNew Zealand
Service/branchRoyal New Zealand Air Force
Years of service1942–1980
RankAir Marshal
Commands heldChief of the Defence Staff (1976–80)
Chief of the Air Staff (1974–76)
No. 24 Squadron (1955–57)
No. 40 Squadron (1954–55)
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Force Cross

Early life and careerEdit

Born at the Kelvin maternity home in Auckland in 1923,[1] Bolt was educated at Nelson College from 1936 to 1939.[2] His father was the pioneering New Zealand aviator George Bolt.

During the Second World War, Bolt served with the Pathfinder Force, flying the Lancaster Bomber. After the War, Bolt held two different squadron commands as the Commanding Officer of No. 40 Squadron RNZAF and No. 24 (Commonwealth) Squadron RAF.

During the ANZUS crisis of 1984–85, Sir Richard was one of 16 senior retired officers and civil servants who wrote protesting the Fourth Labour Government's anti-nuclear policy. They were later referred to by David Lange as the 'geriatric generals'.[3]

Bolt died in Lower Hutt on 27 July 2014 at the age of 91.[4] He was regarded as the Father of the Air Force.[5]

Honours and awardsEdit

Bolt was award the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1945.[6] In the 1959 Queen's Birthday Honours the then Squadron Leader Bolt was awarded the Air Force Cross.[7] In the 1977 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath.[8] In the 1973 Queen's Birthday Honours, Bolt was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire,[9] and he was elevated to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1979 Queen's Birthday Honours.[10] In 1977, Bolt was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal.[11]


  1. ^ "Births". New Zealand Herald. 18 July 1923. p. 1. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  2. ^ Nelson College Old Boys' Register, 1856–2006, 6th edition (CD-ROM).
  3. ^ Dominion Post Obituary, 9 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Sir Richard Bolt dies in Lower Hutt". Scoop Media. 28 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "No. 37277". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 September 1945. p. 4706.
  7. ^ "No. 41729". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1959. p. 3741.
  8. ^ "No. 47104". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 31 December 1976. p. 44.
  9. ^ "No. 45985". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1973. p. 6508.
  10. ^ "No. 47871". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 1979. p. 30.
  11. ^ Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 71. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Lieutenant General Sir Richard Webb
Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Vice Admiral Sir Neil Anderson
Preceded by
Air Vice Marshal Douglas St George
Chief of the Air Staff
Succeeded by
Air Vice Marshal Larry Siegert