80th Anniversary of the Siege of TobrukPrint Page Print this page

17-November-2021 (Betty Murphy)
17-November-2021 (Betty Murphy)

Photographs supplied by Peter Rasey / Betty Murphy (Descendants of the Rats of Tobruk Australia Association Inc )

The fig tree was planted to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk which occured in 1941 during World War Two.

The Siege of Tobruk was a confrontation that lasted 242 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.   

Australians provided the mainstay of the Tobruk defence force until August, when they were withdrawn and replaced by the British 70th Division, with the attached Polish Carpathian Brigade.  British forces lifted the siege on 10 December 1941 during Operation 'Crusader', when 1st Army Tank Brigade linked up with a 'break out' force from Tobruk - the 32nd Army Tank Brigade - at Ed Duda, to the south-east of the town.

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

The 2nd / 13 th Battalion were left behind in Tobruk because of their ship being sunk. They continue to fight with Polish Carpathian Brigade until their arrival in Alexandria on 10th December 1941.


Address:Tel El Kebir Street, Sid Loder Park, Mitchelton, 4053
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.416614
Long: 152.977987
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Tree
Monument Theme:Conflict
Actual Event Start Date:10-April-1941
Actual Event End Date:10-April-2021


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 1st October, 2021
Front Inscription

Tobruk Fig Tree

This tree is the Wadi ficus carica, also known as the common fig tree.

In this park, this fig tree is very special - we know it as the Tobruk Fig Tree.

During the Second World War, Australian soldiers were at the Siege of Tobruk in North Africa.  The siege was from the 10th April to 7th December 1941.  Over 14,000 men who fought during the siege became known as the Rats of Tobruk.  Their motto was "No Surrender".

Controlling North Africa gave the Allied forces access to the Suez Canal enabling access to oil from the Middle East and raw materials from Asia.  Tobruk became an important strategic location with the surrounding hills and deep harbour making it relatively easy to protect.

Located inside the Tobruk perimeter trenches and defensive posts, the fig tree was the only feature in a barren desert.  It was an ideal location for a field hospital, a Regimental Aid Post.  Situated just a few kilometres from the front line located just inside the Red Line, north of the Derna Road, the fig tree could be seen from both Hill 209 in the Salient and Carrier Hill behind that.  But because it was visible from miles away, it was an easy target for German artillery and the site was often heavily shelled for several hours a day.

The tree became known as the Fig Tree Hospital and marked the entrance to a series of deep natural underground caves used by the Australians to treat the wounded and where doctor`s skills were put to the test to save lives of badly injured soldiers with limited medical supplies, whilst artillery rained around them.  The caves were a place to stabilise the wounded before transferring them to the 4th Australian General Hospital near the harbour in Tobruk.

The original Tobruk Fig Tree still stands today in that barren land in Tobruk, Libya, a everlasting reminder of the role it played 80 years ago.

A cutting from the tree was brought back to Australia and planted at Rocky Creek, North Queensland.  The tree you see here today has grown from a cutting of that tree, a living memorial to the many who served at Tobruk.

This tree grew for many years in the backyard of the late Gordon Wallace`s home, who lived in Keperra.

The Tobruk Fig Tree has been gifted to the people of Brisbane from the Descendants of the Rats of Tobruk Australia Association Inc and the family of the late Rat of Tobruk veteran Gordon Wallace, QX7646, 2 / 15th to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk.

Planted 1 / 10 / 2021

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