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Rats of TobrukPrint Page Print this page

21-January-2016
21-January-2016

Photographs supplied by Chris McLaughlin

A park commemorates those who served in the Siege of Tobruk during World War Two.

The Siege of Tobruk was a confrontation that lasted 241 days between Axis and Allied forces in North Africa during the Western Desert Campaign of World War Two. The siege started on 10 April 1941, when Tobruk was attacked by an Italo–German force under Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel and continued for 241 days up to 27 November 1941, when it was relieved by the Allied 8th Army during Operation Crusader.

The “Rats of Tobruk” was the name given to the soldiers of the garrison who held the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Corps during the Siege. 

The garrison, commanded by Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, consisted of the 9th Australian Division (20th, 24th, and 26th Brigades), the 18th Brigade of the 7th Australian Division, four regiments of British artillery and some Indian troops.

Once they held a strategically vital port in North Africa. Now they will forever hold a little corner of Albert Park. Rats of Tobruk Reserve was named yesterday, with Victorian veterans from the famous 1941 siege of the Libyan port in attendance. A plaque will commemorate the Rats, set directly opposite the veterans' headquarters at the corner of Victoria Avenue and O'Grady Street in Albert Park.

Rats of Tobruk president Alan Eldridge described it as "a great honour" to have the park named after the veterans.

The Australian soldiers, battling from tunnels and trenches at Tobruk, were dubbed "the Rats" by British Nazi propagandist William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw-Haw.

Gill Easton, now 84, was just 15 when he lied about his age and enlisted in the army. At 16 he was facing the might of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's advancing forces at Tobruk. Mr Easton said the reserve would be a living history lesson for the local community. "People tend to forget what happened in World War II. It will encourage people to learn more about what happened," he said.

Fellow veteran Murray Burles said naming the reserve after the Rats meant a lot to the veterans. "We are very very grateful and we shall honour that," he said. Mr Burles said there were about 1600 Rats left Australia-wide, including about 80 in Victoria.

Albert Park ward councillor Judith Klepner championed the cause of renaming the reserve. She described the Rats yesterday as an important part of Australian history. Port Phillip Council mayor Janet Cribbes said the Rats had made us all proud.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October 2008. 

Location

Address:Moubray & Victoria Streets, Rats of Tobruk Reserve, Albert Park, 3206
State:VIC
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.843092
Long: 144.952301
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Park
Monument Theme:Conflict
Sub-Theme:WW2
Actual Event STart Date:10-April-1941
Actual Event End Date:27-November-1941

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 22nd October, 2008
Front Inscription

Rats of Tobruk Reserve

In memory of the Rats of Tobruk for their sacrifice during World War II in Libya who held out for over 8 months in 1941 to inflict the first defeat on the German Forces in Africa

Our gratitude to the Port Phillip Council for the presentation of the seat and plaque

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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