Wed Jun 3, 12:08 pm ET
SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia's oldest man and its last surviving veteran of World War I died on Wednesday at the age of 110.
Jack Ross, who joined the Australian Imperial Force in the last months of World War I 91 years ago, died in his sleep in a nursing home in the southern country town of Bendigo, the Golden Oaks Nursing Home said.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd honoured one of the last remaining veterans of the first global conflict.
"Today we mourn the death of Jack Ross, I ask that we also reflect on the service and sacrifice of the 417,000 Australians who served our nation during the First World War and the 61,000 who gave their lives," he told parliament.
"We will continue to remember and to honour their legacy," Rudd added.
Ross, who was born in 1899, enlisted in the Australian military that fought with British forces in January 1918 and was trained in the use of radio before being assigned to the 1st Battalion in his native Victoria state.
But the Great War drew to an end in November of the same year and Ross was demobilised before being posted overseas.
In 1919, Ross joined the railways, where he would work for 45 years, but served the Australian military again in World War II as a member of the volunteer defence corps. He retired from the railways in 1964.
The teetotaller and non-smoker was active until a few years ago and attended the annual Anzac Day parade that honours Australia's contribution to conflicts starting with World War I until 2005 when he became too frail.
"It's always a very sad time for him," his daughter Peggy Ashburn said of the Anzac Day holiday in which Australia's contribution to the British-led assault on the Turkish stronghold of Gallipoli is singled out for recognition.
"He would like to (have been) in the march but there is no way he can do it," she said. Ross, known as "Pop" to family and friends, celebrated his 110th birthday in March with chocolates and cake and a congratulatory letter from Rudd.
Ross was one of only a handful of remaining soldiers in the world who served during the Great War. Only three British World War I soldiers are still alive.
"Australia owes so much to this brave war generation," Rudd told parliament on Wednesday.