Sadly Peter passed away in December 2018. We are grateful to him for sharing his story with us.
I’ve been a farmer all my life. I drew a block of land in 1954 and married a local girl. I’ve been lucky along the line. A few years later I moved to Bombala and bought a farm where I’ve been for over 40 years.
In 2000, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was told I only had 18 months to go. I thought, like hell I have. The doctor was a little too pessimistic for my liking, so I got a second opinion from a doctor who was also a cattle farmer – that made me feel a bit better.
He told me that he didn’t operate on people over 70, but that he would operate. So, I was operated on (as the anaesthetist told me – by the A team) and within four days was out of hospital.
My PSA never really went down and it started to go up again. Radiation didn’t work for me, it was a waste of time. I was sent to a nice lady, a delightful person, Dr Lee. She gave me oestrogen and I started getting hot flushes – like women do. She told me that was great, because it meant it was working. This went on for two years, after which I went to see another doctor who gave me another year of the oestrogen. My cancer is so far progressed, they don’t know when it will come back. I’m still going, while the treatment still works, I’ll be here.
I’m fitter than most though. And I’ve started to learn to fly.
I was in the Air Training Corps in 1943 and 1944. I always had great ambitions to fly in the war, but the war ended before I could. I’ve always wanted to learn to fly. So, one day my daughter Katy, bought me a gift voucher. I went for the trial and the pilot saw I had talent. They don’t have an age limit. As long as you can drive and you have good reactions, you can learn to fly. So, I’ve been learning to fly for about six weeks now.
My three cousins were all in the Air Force. One of my cousins, Norman Williams, had the highest award for a non-commissioned officer. He was a tail gunner in a Halifax bomber. He was too old to be a pilot, at the age of 28, so they made him an air gunner. I started out in the army cadets, but it wasn’t for me. There was better food in the Air Force and I’ve always wanted to fly. I remember going to Temora for 10 days of training at No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School and flying a Tiger Moth. I was proud to wear the uniform.
What I would’ve liked to have been [a pilot], I wasn’t, but I’m going to catch up now. I wasn’t confident to begin with, but the instructor says I’m alright. I’ve retained all of the information from the two year theory from the Air Training Corps in 1943 to 1944. I read the manuals and I understand them. As the quote says, “There’s old pilots and bold pilots, but there’s no old and bold pilots”.