World War II 75th anniversary: RAT of Tobruk captured at El Alamein escaped from an Italian PoW camp

Jack Nie, who has just turned 100 and as he was in World War II, when he served at Tobruk.
Jack Nie, who has just turned 100 and as he was in World War II, when he served at Tobruk.

Jack Nie, who celebrated his 100th birthday recently, is humble and matter of fact when it comes to talking about his life.

The Great Depression, World War II and in his hundredth year a world wide pandemic that forced Australia into lockdown seem just background events for this centenarian who has lived a life less ordinary.

Born in Perth in 1920, one of seven children of Francis and Lizzie, Jack was barely a teen before joining the workforce.

"I left school at 14, it was The Depression you see, we all had to work, if we could," Jack said.

Having scraped through the depression Australia then found itself at war and Jack was keen to serve, after applying for the Air Force and Navy he joined the army in 1941 and was sent to the Middle East.

"After a few stints at various places, including a couple of weeks at Tobruk we were sent to fight at a place called El Alamein," Jack said.

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It was there Mr Nie was captured with his comrades and sent to prison camps in Italy, from which he escaped and fled to Switzerland, where he was interned, returning to Australia just before war's end.

Upon his return to Australia Jack was re-united with his sweetheart Yvonne, whom he met just before he left for war. The couple tied the knot in May 1945.

Jack and his bride moved to Pinjarra, Western Australia, where Jack worked for the PMG (now Telstra). Retiring in 1980 and living in Halls Head, he became a keen golfer playing the fairways until he was 97 years old.

Jack and Yvonne were married for more than 70 years and had three children.

The former digger now lives at RAAFA estate Meadow Springs and enjoyed a special day of celebration on June 14 for his birthday surrounded by family and friends.

"I was amazed, I thought I was having lunch with my sons, but we pulled up to a park, opposite my old house and there was about 100 people there cheering and clapping. I was blessed."