FATE played a hand in saving former able seaman Paul Windle.
The 93-year-old reflected on how he enlisted just as World War II was drawing to a close.
The son of a Sydney watchmaker and jeweller, Mr Windle remembers in the 1940s, the harbour city was full of servicemen from the United States; his father would invite these visitors over for dinner.
Mr Windle also recalled going to school in June 1944, catching a tram at Lane Cove and seeing a poster proposing D-Day, the series of landings in France that began the Allied liberation of western Europe.
"I thought 'I wonder if they will do that', and sure enough that afternoon the invasion was on," he said.
Because of the conscription rules, Mr Windle and his parents were prepared for him to enter the armed forces, so in February 1945 when he was 18 he joined the navy and began training at Flinders.
But an attempt to join the air force seemed doomed, since the force was not taking on any new recruits.
It was an omen for Mr Windle that the war was coming to an end, and while he was training, Germany surrendered.
Mr Windle joined the march through Melbourne's streets called VE Day - "Victory Europe" - and later relocated to HMAS Rushcutter in Sydney to do anti-submarine training with the technology that is the equivalent of today's sonar.
There, while he was training to become a submarine detector, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by Japan's surrender and the war came to an end.
"We were a little bit sad, because we hadn't got into action yet," Mr Windle said.
"We didn't cry or anything like that, but we felt like we missed our opportunity to go to war."
After the war he worked with the navy for a time, helping to map the Queensland coastline by using sonar to watch for hazards to his ship, such as reefs.
In 1954, Mr Windle moved to Bega, on the NSW South Coast.
There he married his wife of 65 years Audrey Windle, who recently died, had three children and worked as a dentist in the town for more than four decades.
Sadly, Mr Windle is the only surviving World War II veteran left in the Bega RSL sub-branch.
"I don't know if it's anything special," he said of his status as the sub-branch's last veteran from the war.
"Most of the blokes who've gone before me have been active servicemen, while I did virtually all my service at the end of the piece."