Rat of Tobruk Fred Rose celebrates 100th birthday today

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Fred Rose talks with his nephews David and Clayton in the lead up to his 100th birthday.
Camera IconFred Rose talks with his nephews David and Clayton in the lead up to his 100th birthday. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

A former Roelands dairy and potato farmer who is one of the last surviving Rats of Tobruk will celebrate his 100th birthday today.

Fred Rose was born in Bunbury and was the fourth eldest of William and Bertha’s 10 children.

Ahead of the big day he said he was unsure why everybody was making such a fuss.

“I’ve still got to get there first,” he said.

“I’m not quite there yet but I might react to it all once I reach the day. I never thought I would reach 100 and I still don’t, I can’t visualise when it will all finish.”

After enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as a 21-year-old in 1940, Mr Rose left from Fremantle on his way to Palestine at the start of 1941.

Two months after disembarking in the foreign country he was one of the 14,000 Australian soldiers who withstood a 1941 siege at the Libyan port of Tobruk.

He returned to Australia in March the next year and following an accidental injury to the eye was discharged early in 1944.

Mr Rose returned to the family farm in Roelands where he worked alongside his brothers Bill, James and Don until he retired to Australind in the 1970s.

Until the age of 97 he was a keen lawn bowler and was a founding member of the Brunswick Bowling Club where he served as captain as well as president and had a green named in his honour in 2014.

“I enjoyed farming, being in the army and lawn bowls all equally,” Mr Rose said.

He never married and lived independently until the middle of last year when moved into permanent residential care at Bethanie Fields.

“I’d still rather be at home in Australind or back on the farm,” he said.

Almost 100 guests are expected to attend his birthday celebrations on Sunday and Mr Rose said he looked forward to seeing so many people as well as visiting the farm.

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