John ‘Jack’ Ross, Australia’s oldest man and the last remaining Australian to have served in the First World War, died yesterday, aged 110, at a nursing home in Bendigo in the state of Victoria. Ross was the last of 417,000 Australians who served in the First World War.
He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in February 1918, aged 18, and was posted to the 1st Battalion at Broadmeadows camp in Victoria. The war ended, however, before he could be sent abroad and he was discharged on Christmas Eve, 1918. He served with the Volunteer Defense Corps, which was inaugurated on July 15th 1940, during the Second World War, but, again, did not fight overseas. In 1998, Jack Ross was awarded the 80th Armistice Anniversary Remembrance medal. He also received the Centenary Medal for his contribution to Australian society in the 100 years since the formation of the federation of Australia, in 1901. He attended his last Aznac Day march in 2006.
The last Australian to serve in the First World War, Evan Allan, died in October 2005. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy when he was 14. The last battlefield Digger, Peter Casserly, died in June 2005, aged 107. The last Gallipoli Aznac, Alec Campbell, who lied about his age in order to enlist, died in May 2002, aged 103,
The Australian Veterans Affairs Minister, Alan Griffin, was quoted in an article published on the Reuters website:
‘It now falls to Australians everywhere to ensure that veterans memory is kept alive. We must ensure that their contribution to Australia's wartime history is passed on to future generations, so that their sacrifice is never forgotten’.