Perth digger John ‘JJ’ Wade, one of the last remaining ‘Rats of Tobruk’, who survived the mayhem and death of World War Two (WWII) died peacefully at the weekend aged 100.
Tributes flowed this week for the sunny-natured ex-soldier who returned to the family dairy farm at Yarloop, in Western Australia’s South-West region, after his discharge with the rank of Corporal in October 1944.
Prior to that he saw action in Libya as a driver mechanic during the Siege of Tobruk by the Afrika Corps, and also in Egypt at El Alamein before his posting to Papua New Guinea in 1943 where he took part in the battle for Lae against the invading Japanese forces.
On returning home, Mr Wade was outspoken on the futility of war but also fiercely honoured the memory of mates that never made it home from the global conflict of WWII by marching on Remembrance Day and Anzac Day.
He was an active member of the Extremely Disabled War Veterans Association.
Earlier this year, Premier Mark McGowan interviewed Mr Wade as part of the Reflections on the Centenary web series, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. To view the interview, visit https://anzac.dpc.wa.gov.au/Pages/Reflections-on-the-Centenary.aspx
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“I was privileged to catch up with JJ earlier this year and talk with him about his wartime experiences.
“I was struck by his sense of humour and the many colourful anecdotes he had to share about his experience of war – an experience that failed to diminish his natural optimism.
“He signed up in Leonora in 1940 at the age of 22 and told me he did so to play his part in ensuring Australia was not invaded. He accomplished that mission.
“We should all be grateful that JJ and men and women like him answered the call to ensure our freedoms.”
As stated by Veterans Issues Minister Peter Tinley:
“John ‘JJ’ Wade and the servicemen and women of his era had a significant impact on our society simply by surviving a global conflict and pushing on with their lives when peace finally arrived.
“He and his generation may be fading, but their example of sacrifice and service is a beacon and an inspiration to us all and should never be forgotten.
“In this year, as we commemorate and celebrate the Centenary of the Armistice that ended the Great War on November 11, 1918, it is worth reflecting on how we can best follow their example.”