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 War Service

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Kriewaldt felt compelled to assist in Australia’s war effort in some way. Initially, in 1941 he wrote to Justice Evatt of the High Court expressing his interest in carrying out ‘extensive propaganda work’ in the USA. Kriewaldt explained that he was well-suited, by virtue of his German language skills and speaking ability, to the task of travelling through the USA in order to counter German propaganda about the war. He noted:

The Lutherans in Australia have very special reasons to appreciate the fact that for over a century they have been permitted to practice their religion in complete freedom. I regard the continuance of this blessing as gravely imperilled by the possibility of a German victory.

His suggestion was rejected and shortly after this he joined the RAAF for the years between 1942 and 1946, becoming a flight lieutenant in 1944 and later acting as a squadron leader from 1945. He carried out a number of roles for the RAAF often undertaking legal duties including acting as a judge in court martials. He also spent some time on active duty in New Guinea in 1944. A confidential standard-form report prepared prior to his posting with the ‘11th group’ describes him as a ‘passable, average, ordinary looking individual’, who is ‘wholesomely self-confident and decisive’. He is described as reliable and as ‘exceptional’ in the performance of his duties. His assessor then writes:

A level headed officer with very well-balanced judgement and a keen insight into the vagaries of his fellow man. He may be relied upon to do his best for the service and his unit.

At the end of the war he was a judge in the Japanese war crime trials at Morotai Island, before he returned to work at his old law firm. His first marriage did not survive the war and he divorced Mary Finlayson in 1947, and then married Edith Trudinger (known as Trudi) in February 1948. They had two children, Martin and Helen. It was this second family who moved with him to Darwin in 1951 along with his dachshund, Gerda, who he apparently was very fond of.

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Inspecting the tailpiece of a crashed RAAF aircraft, Galela Bay, East Indies 1945, Kriewaldt far right. Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

In search of a missing RAAF aircraft by boat, Galela Bay, East Indies 1945. Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

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by Heather Douglas