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