Former Air Force pilot is flying high at Redwood
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.
Whoops: The Greater Wellington Regional Council sign that is trying to turn back the clock.