After surviving a mid-air collision and going on to fly 30 more missions over France and Europe during World War II, Roy Pegler is one of a number of Australians who were recently awarded France’s highest civic honour.
Five Australians who fought for the liberation of France during the war were made Knights of the Legion of Honour at a ceremony a Sydney’s French Consulate in June.
Roy, who now lives at Courtlands Village in North Parramatta, joined the airforce after serving in the army at the beginning of the war based up in Darwin.
“In those years we were terribly concerned about the Japanese moving down and about the influence the Nazis were having in Europe,” he said.
Roy soon swapped the horrendous heat and humidity of northern Australian for freezing temperatures when he travelled to Canada for six months of training.
After training he went to England to start missions over Nazi occupied Europe, but had to bail out of the first one after colliding with a friendly aircraft during cloudy weather.
Roy didn’t let that stop him from completing 30 more missions over France, Sweden, Norway and Germany.
He’s still stoic about the danger he faced every time he embarked on a mission.
“You’ve got a job to do and you just go in and do it,” Roy said.
The awards were given out in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of WWII.