His dreams of becoming a pilot were thwarted, but 96-year-old still saw active service in Indonesia and Borneo

PROUD MOMENT: Roger Penman, 96, is about to add to his medal collection. Photo: Burney Wong.
PROUD MOMENT: Roger Penman, 96, is about to add to his medal collection. Photo: Burney Wong.

It will be a proud moment for World War II veterans when the Governor General David Hurley presents them with commemorative medallions on Thursday, August 13.

Roger Penman, who served in the war for from 1943 to mid 1946, is among seven veterans who will receive the recognition in the regional NSW town of Goulburn.

The 96-year-old, who served in the Royal Australian Air Force, was promoted to the rank of corporal during the war.

He said his goal was to become a pilot, but instead ended up as an orderly room clerk.

"I was sent to a station just slightly east of Melbourne and given months of training to become a pilot," Mr Penman said.

"Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.

"However, it was noticed that I typed at a speed of 34 words per minute on the typewriter, which was very quick, so I became an orderly room clerk."

After training, Mr Penman was given a week's leave before going to Camp Murphy, most commonly known as the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

From there, he travelled to Darwin where he would begin his duty.

"From the MCG, we went to Adelaide and then to Alice Springs by train before going to Darwin via the Adelaide River," Mr Penman said.

"We had to be on a cattle train which had no seating."

Upon arriving in Darwin, Mr Penman was situated in the No. 452 Spitfire Squadron.

Mr Penman said he was in the company of renowned airman Clive "Killer" Caldwell at that time.

"When I was in Darwin, he was the commander of the area," he said.

"He was the most famous airman in World War II as he had 27 kills and shared three kills."

After spending over a year in the Northern Territory, Morotai in Indonesia was the next stop for six months until June,1945.

Mr Penman would then move west to Tarakan, situated on the east coast of Borneo, for the remainder of the war.

He remembered the sadness of being away from family, but was able to deal with it through writing letters.

"I wrote a lot of letters to my family," he said.

"There was someone who oversaw our letters, but I don't think anyone ever got in trouble for writing something inappropriate."

Mr Penman would stay in Tarakan for a month after the end of the war before going to Bradfield, near Sydney.

He was dismissed from duty in the middle of 1946 and moved back to his Bradley Street home in Goulburn, where he still resides today.

This story Governor-General presents 96-year-old with medal first appeared on Goulburn Post.