Each year the Lane Cove RSL Sub Branch invites a Lane Cove Resident to talk about a relative who has served in the military. This year Kerry Corkill spoke about her father Leading Aircraftman Peter Comino. It was wonderful to see Peter Comino on stage and he thanked everyone for the honour and said the was thrilled to be at the service at the age of 97.
Kerry Corkill made the following presentation:
Leading Aircraftman Peter Coino – 163751
Good morning; my name is Kerry Corkill, and I thank you for the opportunity to honour my Father.
Peter’s uncle arrived in Australia in 1906 and his father arrived in 1908 – almost 120 years since members of the Comino family first arrived in Australia from Greece. For those of you of a certain age, it will not be a surprise to note that they embraced business including Cafés across New South Wales.
Taking advantage of the prosperous New England region of New South Wales, Peter’s parents opened the Red Rose café in Guyra sometime around the time of World War One.
Peter was born in Armidale in 1926 and first attended Primary School in Guyra aged eight (8). When he started school Peter could not speak English and as was the nature of the times he suffered as the son of a Greek family by being called derogatory terms – words that do not need to be repeated in this forum.
Nevertheless, Peter learned to speak English and when he sat for the Intermediate Certificate he achieved an A Pass in both English and History.
While attending Armidale high school he joined the Air Training Corps which was intended to prepare trainees for entry into the Royal Australian Air Force.
In 1944, aged 18, Peter joined the Royal Australian Air Force.
Air Force Recruiting sent Peter a letter in May 1944 instructing him to report to Woolloomooloo. The letter included Rail and Meal warrants along with information as to his daily pay rate – six shillings and sixpence (6/6) and that he would be provided with free messing, uniforms and accommodation.
Over the next twelve months, he underwent Recruit and Trade training in Cootamundra, Adelaide and Ascot Vale before ending up at RAAF Williamtown, where he met his future brother-in-law, Jack Moulos.
By now, the war had turned in the Allies favour and our troops had landed in Borneo and with General MacArthur preparing to return to the Philippines – as promised in 1942.
For his part Peter was posted in June 1945 to 79 Spitfire Squadron who were flying missions out of Morotai Island which was located north of Netherlands East Indies (todays Indonesia).
There were still Japanese soldiers on the Island and they came out of hiding at night to scavenge for food and if the opportunity presented itself to kill Allied sentries – to this day Peter is uncomfortable in the dark.
With the dropping of the atomic bomb in August 1945 the war drew to a close.
Peter was present on Morotai on 9 Sep 1945 when he witnessed the formal surrender of the Japanese 2nd Army taken by General Sir Thomas Blamey,
It was not until June 1946 that Peter was discharged – not yet aged 21.
Following his discharge in 1946, Peter returned to Guyra but like many young men, he found the transition to civilian life challenging although he worked for a short time at Prouds the Jewellers in the city.
Peter married Matina Moulos and in 1953 they joined her brother Jack in partnership at the Niagara Café in Singleton – a partnership that lasted 18 years.
In 1974, Peter, Matina and the children – Paul, John and Kerry – moved to Tamarama in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and found work with the Department of Health until he retired in 1986.
In 1997 Peter and Matina moved to Lane Cove to be closer to their family.
Matina passed away in 2017.
Peter enjoys a quiet life but can be seen having lunch and coffee in the Plaza.
Peter has asked me to convey his appreciation to the community and the Sub Branch for this opportunity to be recognised as a proud Australian of Greek background.
Our Cover Photo is Kerry Corkhill presenting her father’s story on stage at The Canopy on ANZAC Day 2023.