Former Air Force pi­lot is fly­ing high at Red­wood

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Gra­ham Goss’ chil­dren joke that he had a bet­ter OE than most, but its not likely they’d trade back­pack­ers’ hos­tels for anti-sub­ma­rine pa­trols.

The 88- year- old Red­wood Vil­lage res­i­dent en­joys a much slower change of pace th­ese days, with vis­its to fel­low pi­lots around the Welling­ton re­gion and some­times fur­ther afield to ‘‘tell lies’’ about their ser­vice in the Sec­ond World War.

He says he is lucky, hav­ing had no ma­jor health is­sues aside from be­ing un­able to read small print and arthri­tis in both legs.

‘‘If I had two new legs I could be dan­ger­ous. It keeps me go­ing [the reg­u­lar vis­its to other ser­vice­men], but us old fel­las only open the hangar doors to wheel our bikes out now. There was a ca­ma­raderie among air crew as we had to rely on each other so much, which you don’t get to­day.’’

Mr Goss served as a nav­i­ga­tor on Catalina fly­ing boats and Grum­man Avengers in the Pa­cific dur­ing World War II and was in Malaya un­til 1952. As most who joined up in the 1940s, he wanted to be a pi­lot, but ‘‘break­ing’’ a Tiger Moth dur­ing train­ing didn’t help his cause.

He re­calls be­ing a pop­u­lar man on Box­ing Day in 1945.

‘‘We had to pick up troops in Syd­ney so we flew 10 hours in our Catalina. In Aus­tralia there was a heat wave, there was no beer and ev­ery­one was on strict ra­tions. We turned up with 12 bot­tles of Kiwi beer and were made in­stant mem­bers of an Aussie mess.’’

Other ‘‘ won­der­ful’’ post­ings dur­ing his ser­vice in­cluded Sin­ga­pore and Canada, the lat­ter which he has re-vis­ited more than once since the war days.

Fol­low­ing his dis­charge he helped es­tab­lish the New Zealand Fed­er­a­tion of Brevet Clubs, which pro­vides fel­low­ship for air crew and their de­pen­dants, serv­ing 50 years on the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive.

He is sad to have seen the ini­tial 12 clubs dwin­dle to eight.

‘‘It’s the at­tri­tion of age, we have plenty of sec­ond gen­er­a­tion mem­bers, but we’re all get­ting too old. Re­cruit­ing has fallen away when the air force faced huge cuts [in the last 10 years], it’s a shame but that’s the way it goes.’’

Af­ter leav­ing the air force he lived in Ti­tahi Bay for 26 years. He and his wife raised five chil­dren, all of whom went to Mana Col­lege.

He also helped raise money for air force mu­se­ums at Wi­gram and Ohakea – the lat­ter closed re­cently, to Mr Goss’ re­gret – and held se­nior roles at the New Zealand Stock Ex­change and Welling­ton Cathe­dral of St Paul.

He was a Scout leader, se­nior rugby ref­eree and mem­ber of the Freema­sons and Probus. His ser­vice to all th­ese causes was recog­nised in the New Year hon­ours list with a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal.

‘‘ With all the com­mu­nity pro­grammes I have been in­volved in it’s been with a lot of won­der­ful peo­ple and that’s what it’s al­ways been about – peo­ple and friend­ship. It was very nice to get the award, I was chuffed.’’

QSM: Tawa’s Gra­ham Goss says he was chuffed to be recog­nised in the New Year hon­ours list.

Photo: DAVID GREEN.

Whoops: The Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil sign that is try­ing to turn back the clock.

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