Friday 11 aug 2017
Robert Crofts joined the RSL in 1945.
At the table he was the king of attention.
"I take two sugars in my tea thanks," says newly crowned centenarian Robert Crofts as a cup of tea is pushed towards him.
A small group of friends, family, and well-wishers gathered at Café Dean at the Alice Ross-King Care Centre located on the RAAFA Bull Creek estate to spend some time with the man who enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) back in 1943.
The State Minister for Veterans Issues, Hon. Peter Tinley AM MLA and State Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Dr Mike Nahan MLA were present along with RSLWA Chief Executive Officer John McCourt, RSLWA Operations Manager Martin Holzberger AM CSC, and Riverton RSL Sub-Branch President Bill Collidge.
Mr Crofts was presented with a gift and an RSLWA letter of appreciation signed by RSLWA State President Peter Aspinall acknowledging the occasion.
While enjoying some birthday cake Mr Crofts let it be known that he misses his ability to drive.
"I wanted to sit for my driving test recently but I couldn't even get an interview," he said with a smile.
"In all the years I have been driving I only hit one Kangaroo. My final car is a Hyundai Grandeur, a top of the line model."
While some servicemen’s route to enlisting in the Air Force was fairly straightforward, Robert’s journey to be in Borneo was somewhat more complicated.
“I was trying to sign up for the RAAF from 1939 but only succeeded in enlisting in 1943,” Robert says.
“I was providing manpower on a mine in Leonora, and they wouldn’t let me go for a time because I was considered to be providing ‘essential services’. “At the time I was also an ambulance officer in charge of the local ambulance services, so I had a job getting out of it.
Finally, in 1943 I was able to join the Australian Army, then after six months I transferred into the Air Force for the final two years of the war.”
After the war, Robert moved to Leonora in 1948, then to Kalgoorlie for six years before returning to Perth where he and his wife had their family. Robert served with St John Ambulance for over 30 years, and received an award honouring his long term contribution to the service several years ago.
| Part of this article uses material published with permission by Air Mail magazine who wrote about Robert's history.