Air Commodore Gordon Henry Steege DFC DSO turned 90 a couple of months ago. He remains ramrod straight and his conversation is vivid and entertaining, especially when he’s discussing his exploits in North Africa flying Gladiator biplanes against the Axis forces – his hands cutting through the air to illustrate the weft and warp of aerial combat.
On 18 February 1941, Steege attacked four enemy aircraft in succession over Libya. Army sources confirmed he had shot down three of them in this single engagement. He later flew Kittyhawks against the Japanese in New Guinea and became an accredited fighter ‘ace’ having shot down eight enemy aircraft. By the end of the war, having risen steadily through the ranks, Steege was Director of Operations at RAAF HQ in Melbourne.
Then, late in 1946, thirsty for adventure, he resigned his commission and became a cadet patrol officer in PNG, rising to the position of Assistant District Officer four years later, when he resigned to rejoin the RAAF as a Wing Commander during the Korean emergency.
He spent time in the sixties commanding RAAF bases at Amberley, Butterworth and Edinburgh, retiring in 1972. Since then he’s lived in Palm Beach, NSW, and regularly attends PNG Association functions [right].