Keith Stanley Rae: A true Australian hero.
This is the incredible story of Rosebrook’s former AFL star who – in the prime of his sporting career – went off to war to serve his country.
Keith Stanley Rae was a talented midfielder whose playing career for the Carlton Football Club was significantly disrupted by World War 2.
Keith was born in Williamstown and attended Footscray Technical College before completing a welding course. In his early twenties, Keith was invited to try out for the Carlton VFL team. He played his first senior game of football in 1939, becoming the 550th player to pull on the navy blue jumper.
Keith played in two memorable games for the Blues in 1939 before the outbreak of the Second World War. Given that Keith was already serving with the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve, he was quickly called up to serve his country.
Keith survived the sinking of his ship – The HMAS Nestor – in the Mediterranean Sea in 1942. The two engine rooms of the Nestor were flooded and four stokers were tragically killed in that incident. Keith made it to safety by sitting on top of the deck until a rescue ship came by.
In 1943 he returned to Melbourne and quickly resumed his playing career at Princes Park under coach Percy Bentle. It was to be short lived however, as the Navy called Keith back in 1944 where his football again took a back seat to his national service.
Keith was still on duty when World War 2 ended in August, 1945 – meaning he served his country for the duration of the war.
Keith last year celebrated his 103rd birthday in McKenzie’s Rosebrook facility on the Mornington Peninsula. He is currently the oldest surviving VFL/AFL player.
Keith is an amazing man who has lived an incredible life of service and sacrifice. Importantly, he still proudly supports his beloved Blues and hopes to see them win another premiership.