Long trek to enlist didn’t end well for WWII veteran
So keen was he to support the World War II effort, Phil Robinson, at the age of 15, walked 96km from Perth to Northam to enlist.
But the long trek with a mate to what was the nearest training centre was in vain, not just because they were under the legal enlistment age.
“After walking all that way, the guard at the Army camp told us recruiting was done back in Perth,” the 94-year-old said.
“The Northam Police sergeant locked us up for a couple of days before my mate’s dad turned up to take us back home.
“After that episode, my parents kept me on a tight leash.
“They sent me to work on a remote station until I turned 18 and could enlist.”
Mr Robinson joined the RAAF and served from 1944-1946 in maritime surveillance flights operating from Geraldton and retired as a leading aircraftman.
“We flew in Aggie’s (Avro Ansons) searching for Japanese ships, planes and submarines,” he said.
“There was a pilot with his offsider in the front, and I was in the back with a pair of binoculars.
“I wasn’t frightened about being shot down; it was war and that’s the way it was.”
He is one of about 12,000 surviving World War II veterans of the almost 1 million who served at home and overseas.
On October 20, Norforce Kimberley Squadron’s Major Matthew Jones presented Mr Robinson with a coin and certificate commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.
“It’s quite an honour to make this presentation to Phil and for our unit to be involved,” Major Jones said.
“Phil volunteered to spend time away from family and put himself in harm’s way for the defence of this country.
“That debt will never be fully repaid.”
Described as a quiet achiever, Mr Robinson has spent the 75 years since his service in a range of ventures, from underground mining, building roads, and developing property, to running taverns and prospecting for gold and diamonds in The Kimberley.
When asked about the secret to his long life, Mr Robinson replied: “Not sitting down too long.”