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September 12, 2013
his life to
the full KOREAN COMMAND: Above, then WGCDR Gordon Steege, centre, with AVM J.P.J. McCauley and GPCAPT
A.G. Carr; right, WGCDR Steege with AVM McCauley in the cockpit of a Meteor.
Photos: Australian War Memorial
WGCDR Ken Llewelyn
ONE of the Air Force's most
distinguished fighter aces,
AIRCDRE Gordon Steege,
has died aged 95.
He enlisted in the RAAF in January
1937 and during World War II shot
down Italian aircraft in an antiquat-
ed Gloucester Gladiator biplane. He
later flew Hurricanes and Kittyhawks
against German Ju 87s and Bf 110s.
Retired Chief of the Air Staff and
Vietnam veteran, AIRMSHL David
Evans, said AIRCDRE Steege was not
only a courageous and skilled pilot, he
excelled as a leader.
"He was quick-witted and a
gifted raconteur and if he had not left
the service after WWII he may well
have reached the highest levels in the
RAAF," AIRMSHL Evans said.
AIRCDRE Steege was awarded
the Distinguished Flying Cross while
flying on operations with 3SQN in the
Western Desert where he displayed
outstanding determination and dar-
ing, often against numerically superior
In September 1941, he was
Mentioned in Despatches for his
exceptional ability as a leader of
450SQN, which he commanded in the
For displaying outstanding lead-
ership and skill in leading 73 and
81 Fighter Wings in the south-west
Pacific, and for his courage and
devotion to duty, AIRCDRE Steege
was awarded the Distinguished Service
Order in 1944.
His love of New Guinea was
aroused at the outbreak of war in
1939 when he was dispatched to Port
Moresby as the adjutant of 11SQN
with responsibility for two Qantas
Short Empire Flying Boats and two
Air Force Seagulls.
The squadron's task was
reconnaissance, as the government
AIRCDRE GORDON STEEGE
October 31, 1917 -- September 1, 2013
'[The Italian pilots]
were very capable,
one could say
flashy, like their
-- AIRCDRE Gordon Steege
was convinced German raiders would
operate in the Pacific as they did in
WWI. After 11 months, AIRCDRE
Steege was asked to return to 3SQN
and action in the Middle East.
Initially given the task of assem-
bling Lysander Army coopera-
tion aircraft, the squadron was soon
reassigned a fighter role equipped with
the Gloucester Gladiator.
AIRCDRE Steege once said he
respected the Italian pilots.
"They were very capable, one
could say flashy, like their racing
drivers," he said.
AIRCDRE Steege scored his first
aerial victory in the North African
campaign when he shot down an
Italian Fiat CR 42.
On promotion to Squadron
Leader in May 1941, he was given
command of the newly established
450SQN just arrived from Australia at
Abusueir, Egypt, equipped with P-40
He scored a confirmed victory over
a Messerschmitt Bf 109 on March 28,
Promoted to acting Wing
Commander, he returned to Australia
later that year with a final tally of
eight enemy aircraft destroyed, two
probables and five damaged.
In December 1946, he resigned
from the RAAF to become a patrol
officer in New Guinea but he rejoined
and, on August 16, 1951, was
posted to Kimpo in South Korea as the
Commanding Officer of 77SQN.
After service in Korea he returned
to Australia and held a number of
appointments before being
promoted to Group Captain in May
1958. He was then appointed as a
senior planner at the South East Asia
Treaty Organisation Military Planning
Office in Bangkok.
He returned to the Department of
Air in December 1961 as Director of
Promoted to Air Commodore, he
commanded RAAF Bases Amberley
and Butterworth in the mid-1960s
before serving as Senior Air Staff
Officer at Headquarters Operational
Command in Glenbrook.
He retired from the RAAF on
October 31, 1972.
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