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ACT’s last Rat of Tobruk celebrates 100th birthday at Giralang Primary

Lachlan Roberts 28 June 2019 9

Ever since Ms Smith told her students to research the Rats of Tobruk in 1999, the school has developed a special connection with the valiant veterans and Mr Fleming in particular.

John Fleming, wearing his special birthday hat made by some of the students, cuts his cake.

The students have also created a memorial wall in the school dedicated to the WWII veterans and every year they have invited Mr Fleming to tell his story during their Anzac Day assembly.

“The school has grown tremendously compared to when I first started here,” Mr Fleming shared. “If I make it here to my 101st birthday, I will just tell them I am pleased to be with them.

“They will all be surprised that I am still turning up.”

A dispatch rider for the 9th Division Signals, Mr Fleming was tasked with transporting messages to the frontline. To this day, he still has vivid memories of his time in Tobruk and can recall the injuries he suffered during his time.

“The kids know I have been there and I used to ride a motorbike,” he said, chuckling. “I have plenty of memories, more of El Alamein than of Tobruk. Tobruk wasn’t too bad but El Alamein gave us a bit of hurry up.

“When we were in Egypt, they sent us to Lebanon and as we were going up on the train, there was another train coming down. We said, ‘we won so don’t you buggers lose it for us’.

“I have plenty of memories.”

Year three student Jacob Bink congratulates Mr Fleming.

Year six student Sam Knight, who is part of the school band that played Happy Birthday, said it was an honour to have Mr Fleming celebrate his birthday at the school.

“It was awesome and it was such an honour to have him here and we are so lucky,” Sam said. “He is a Rat of Tobruk and it’s awesome that he has lived so long.

“He has been coming to our school for his birthday and Anzac assembly for a long time now and we have known him for a long time.

“He is the last Rat of Tobruk left so it’s special that he is here with us. He has taught us a lot about the ANZACS during Anzac assembly. He is always there, wearing his best suit and medals.

“I think he enjoyed the party. He was laughing, smiling and I think he was a bit emotional.”


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9 Responses to ACT’s last Rat of Tobruk celebrates 100th birthday at Giralang Primary
Carol Blyth Carol Blyth 8:29 am 03 Jul 19

What an amazing grandfather you have Peter Renee Fleming!! Congratulations to a wonderful man!🎉🎉🎉🎂🎂🎂🎂🎈🎈🎈🎈

Jo van Meurs Jo van Meurs 7:06 pm 01 Jul 19

Fantastic..a true hero and gentleman 🌹🌷

Paul Eldridge Paul Eldridge 6:07 pm 01 Jul 19

Kai Harris Lena talks a lot about John Fleming🙌🏼

    Kai Harris Kai Harris 7:36 pm 01 Jul 19

    Paul Eldridge what a boss 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

Rod Phillips Rod Phillips 1:15 pm 01 Jul 19

Brad Fleming is this a realtive of yours?

    Brad Fleming Brad Fleming 10:06 pm 01 Jul 19

    Rod Phillips No mate. Our clan are all Victorian. O'Briens/ Southwells are our Canberra side

Gwg Heldon Gwg Heldon 11:39 am 01 Jul 19

He is the embodiment of what the words hero and legend are.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 10:29 am 01 Jul 19

Happy Birthday Sir, Thank you for kicking the real Nazis scum asses.

Cheryl Gay Cheryl Gay 8:18 am 01 Jul 19

A real hero.

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