Rose planted in Bunbury at 101st birthday to salute Tobruk Rats

Headshot of Ailish Delaney
Ailish DelaneySouth Western Times
Bunbury WWII veteran Fred Rose at his 101th birthday celebrations.
Camera IconBunbury WWII veteran Fred Rose at his 101th birthday celebrations. Credit: Ailish Delaney/South Western Times

Former Roelands dairy and potato farmer Fred Rose, one of the last surviving Rats of Tobruk, celebrated his 101st birthday on Thursday with the planting of a special flower — a rose for a Rose.

Dedicated to the Rats of Tobruk, the “No Surrender” Rose was named to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk in April next year.

Family gathered to celebrate Mr Rose’s birthday and plant the rose bush at Bethanie Fields last week.

After joining the Australian Imperial Force at the age of 21 in 1940, Mr Rose became one of the 14,000 Australian soldiers involved in the 1941 eight-month Tobruk Siege of World War II.

Fewer than 50 of those soldiers are alive today.

Bunbury World War II veteran Fred Rose at the rose planting ceremony on his 101st birthday.
Camera IconBunbury World War II veteran Fred Rose at the rose planting ceremony on his 101st birthday. Credit: Ailish Delaney/South Western Times/Ailish Delaney

Born in Bunbury to a family of 10 children, Mr Rose is determined to become the last standing Rat of Tobruk, and with an aunt who lived until she was 103, his family believe it is not a far-fetched goal.

Nephew Clayton Rose said when Mr Rose returned from the war he found a passion for lawn bowls and had a green named in his honour at the Brunswick Bowling Club.

“He’s a man of few words, but Fred is still really sharp,” he said.

“He has an acute sense of humour, it’s so subtle.”

Bunbury veteran Fred Rose with his niece Sue Edwards and nephews David, Ken and Clayton Rose.
Camera IconBunbury veteran Fred Rose with his niece Sue Edwards and nephews David, Ken and Clayton Rose.

Mr Rose’s family said he was well-travelled and had an abundance of captivating stories from over the years.

One family member fondly recounted the time Mr Rose told a story about walking to school barefoot in the cold and stepping in cow pats to have something on his feet, and joked it was one of those tales he was not sure was true.

The No Surrender Rose planted to commemorate the Rats of Tobruk.
Camera IconThe No Surrender Rose planted to commemorate the Rats of Tobruk. Credit: Ailish Delaney/South Western Times

Treloar Roses will donate $2 from the sale of each “No Surrender Rose” to the Descendants of The Rats of Tobruk Australia Association to help fund veteran-related projects.

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