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Morning Bulletin - 15 Nov 1939
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Rockhampton Chapter of the Rats of Tobruk

Overview of Memorial

The men of 20th Brigade transferred from the 7th to the 9th Division enroute to the Middle East aboard the Queen Mary and were involved in the Siege of Tobruk which lasted from 10th April until December 1941 until this time the Nazi Africka Corps had never been defeated.
II. They next became involved in the Battle of Alamein where the fighting was vicious.
After the Siege of Tobruk (also known as the Easter Battle) the 9th Division was recalled to Australia to face a new enemy – The Japanese. After jungle training on the Atherton Tablelands these men embarked to Milne Bay in Papua and was involved in the seaborne landing at Lae and then Finschhafen round the Huon Peninsular through to Sio.

Tobruk like Gallipoli is a name that means much in the war annals of Australia. A parallel can be drawn between Tobruk and Milne Bay. At Milne Bay the invincible Japanese suffered their first defeat – at Tobruk the all-conquering German Forces received their first defeat, in each case at the hands of Australians. The success at Milne Bay may not be so surprising when it is noted that the 18th Ausralian Infantry Brigade which was part of the defence of Tobruk were also part of the defence of Milne Bay.

The heroic defence of Tobruk is a notable military achievement and a worthy addition to the long list of deeds of valour performed by Australian soldiers and sailors, airmen, who supported them. The defenders of Tobruk confirmed and enhanced the traditional image of the Australian soldier and their reputation of Heroism.

In the late 1970s the Rockhampton chapter of the Rats of Tobruk was established. There was no public memorial in Rockhampton dedicated to the memory of the Rats of Tobruk and the Rats of Tobruk committee were always concerned about the lasting memory of the Rats of Tobruk. On the 11 March 1996 Mr Cec Dobbs, Jack Heelan, Howard McArthur and Mr McInnerney formed a deputation to address Council of their concerns. Council agreed in principle to the establishment of a memorial to honour the Rats of Tobruk. Thus the first stage of Howard and the committees dream had begun.
On the 3rd June Council approved of the design of the memorial to be constructed in Jefferies Park.

Now the difficult part for the committee was to raise funds to construct the project. The dedication and enthusiasm of the members of the Rats of Tobruk, Councillor Rose Swadling and local businesses rallied to the cause, service clubs such as Apex, Rotary, Lions, Vic Graham Concreting, Swadling Painting, Capricorn Quarries, Pioneer Concrete and Besser Blocks all provided materials and labour to construct the memorial. The project was completed on the 10 April 1997. Howard’s and the committee’s first stage was complete. The memorial in Jefferies Park is a replica of the original memorial constructed in Alamein War Cemetery.

The second stage of the project is to construct the honour wall at the memorial recognising all men and women who were Rats of Tobruk and enlisted from Queensland.

The committee now made up of siblings of the RATS will ensure Howard’s and the committee’s dream is fulfilled. There are numerous servicemen in Queensland who served are not recognised on a memorial in Queensland. These men and women have made incredible sacrifices in fighting for our freedom and Howard’s dream will become a reality.



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