Tobruk Rat, farmer was natural optimist
A Yarloop farmer who was one of the last remaining Rats of Tobruk from World War II died this month aged 100.
John “JJ” Wade signed up in 1940 at the age of 22 as a driver-mechanic and saw action in Tobruk, Libya, and then in the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt.
John later took part in the battle for Lae in Papua New Guinea before being discharged with the rank of Corporal in 1944
That was when John moved to the South West to work on the family dairy farm near Yarloop.
John’s son Jim Wade said his father signed up with the 2/28th battalion which was mostly made up of enlistees from the South West region.
“After the war Dad moved down there and built a house which is still standing,” Jim said.
Jim said his father was a people person who got along with just about everybody.
“He never had a bad thing to say about anybody,” Jim said.
“He was always positive and looked on the bright side whenever he could.”
Jim said he was proud to see his father in the limelight, which was quite often.
Earlier this year, Premier Mark McGowan interviewed John for the Reflections on the Centenary web series to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Mr McGowan said he was privileged to catch up with John to talk 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,” Mr McGowan said.
Veterans Issues Minister Peter Tinley said the service and sacrifice of John and his generation were an inspiration to everyone.
“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,” Mr Tinley said.
“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."
The Wade family farm house being built in Yarloop in 1951.
Yarloop farmer John Wade building the dairy shed in 1952 with his brother Kevin, his son Jim and Les Bevan.
John “JJ” Wade in 2016.