Popularly known as “Jack”, John Rose was born on 11 August 1894, the second son of William and Annie Rose of Malmsbury, Victoria. After attending the local state school he went on to become a carpenter.
Rose enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915 and underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas on the troopship Demosthenes in December. Rose trained in Egypt with reinforcements to the 5th Battalion but broke his thumb in February 1916, which limited his training for about a month.
At the end of March, Private Rose embarked for the battlefields of France. In June, he was seconded to an entrenching battalion, labouring with them for about three weeks. He then joined the 5th Battalion in Belgium, where the men had been gaining valuable front-line experience in a quiet sector.
Shortly afterwards, the 5th Battalion moved south to the Somme region of France and was quickly drawn in to the fierce fighting around the French village of Pozières and nearby Mouquet Farm.
Although the battalion suffered heavy casualties, particularly in August 1916, Private Rose came through unharmed. However, the battalion was so depleted that, like others in the 1st Australian Division, it was sent back to Belgium to recover.
In September, the 5th Battalion was in support trenches in a quiet sector near the Belgian town of Ypres. The men were still subjected to artillery barrages and machine-gun fire on a regular basis, and on 22 September Private Rose’s position came under fire.
At “about tea time” a round from a German mortar known as a minenwerfer landed nearby, killing and wounded several Australians. One of those killed outright was Private Jack Rose. He was 22 years old.
A friend, Private Sharpe, wrote to Rose’s parents to say:
“you will be pleased to known that everything was done to give poor Jack a decent burial, for I happened to be one of those who buried him … we had to carry him two miles down to a little Canadian soldiers’ cemetery, where we laid him to rest alongside of his former mates who had been killed a day or two previously. A couple of days later … we erected a neat little white painted wooden cross over each of their graves.”
Today Jack Rose is buried in Bedford House Cemetery, just south of Ypres. His epitaph reads, “When Empire called he did his best, and to God we leave the rest.”
Dr Meleah Hampton, Historian, Military History Section