Rats of Tobruk Exhibition

The 80th anniversary of the Siege to Tobruk falls during 2021. By April 10 1941, the German and Italian forces had surrounded the Tobruk garrison which was being defended by British Commonwealth forces including more than 14,000 Australians. Along the perimeter the first shots were exchanged. The siege had begun. Heavy fighting continued for 242 days. It was an epic battle and despite heavy casualties, the Tobruk garrison was held. This was one of the longest sieges in British military history and gave rise to the legend of the mighty ‘Rats of Tobruk’.

The Rats Remembered

On April 13, dignitaries, guests and descendants of the Rats of Tobruk attended the exhibition opening at Coffs Central. The Reverend Doctor Graham Whelan opened the gathering with a prayer of thanks and remembrance.

Rats of Tobruk Exhibition
An elderly man speaking into a microphone

Stuart Tolliday co-curated the exhibition and is a committee member of the Rats of Tobruk Association. The son of Rat Bill Tolliday travelled from Melbourne to share stories of his father’s experience at Tobruk. Some were humorous and tender while other stories painted a clear picture of what the young soldiers had to contend with.

Three elderly men in suits talking and laughing

Local Connections

Phillip Hannaford and Paul Owens are the son and son in law of the late Arnold Hannaford, a Rat who settled in Coffs Harbour after the war. Both men spoke of Arn’s strength of character and the sacrifices he made for his country.

An older couple sitting together in an audience
Rats of Tobruk Exhibition

For the next month, you’ll have the chance to see the unique visual display commemorating the 80th Anniversary of this historic event. The Rats of Tobruk Exhibition can be viewed at:

Level 1, Coffs Central – opposite endota spa

Level 1, Port Central – alongside the food court

Rats of Tobruk Exhibition
Rats of Tobruk Exhibition
Rats of Tobruk Exhibition
‘Tobruk’ by Peter FitzSimons is available for purchase from the Coffs Central concierge desk
Rats of Tobruk Exhibition
Refreshments were provided by Depot Cafe Coffs Central

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with The Rats of Tobruk Association.

Top Articles

Read Article
Students Find Success at CUC
Read Article
Fantastic Creature Designed for Fun
Read Article
Winter Fashion: Sportscraft
Read Article
‘Very Own’ Opens at Culture Hub