Rats of Tobruk honoured with tribute
April 8 2013, 3:40 pm

The legacy of the epic Rats of Tobruk continued as the group of World War II veterans donated $1.5 million to the RCH. They've recently been honoured with a tribute mural within the RCH Neuroscience Unit. 

The Rats of Tobruk incredible donation supports the RCH Neuroscience department by funding an annual fellowship, enabling a clinician to undertake travel to further his/her studies in benefit of the hospital and sick children in the RCH's care. A tribute mural has been created in the Neuroscience Unit (Cockatoo Ward), that details the Rats' heroic jouney across the globe, from Australia to Libya, to honour their contribution. 

In 2010, The Rats of Tobruk presented a cheque for $1.5 million to The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), generously donated from the earlier sale of their inner-city Albert Park meeting hall 'Tobruk House' in 2007.

The Victorian contingent of the Rats of Tobruk Association had concluded that it could no longer afford the upkeep of Tobruk House that they had bought back in the 1950s when the Victorian Association had as many as 1800 members. But by 2007, there were just 80 left, all aged in their 80s and 90s. 

Businessman Bill Gibbons bought the meeting hall, but has insisted the former soldiers continue to meet there every month. As reported by The Age, "in an act that stunned the diggers, Mr Gibbons ... then told the veterans they could keep the hall as long as they wanted."

The former soldiers fought in one of Australia’s most successful military engagements, holding the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Corps in World War II.

The Australians gave themselves the nickname 'the Rats of Tobruk' after Radio Berlin described the Australians as 'caught like rats in a trap.' In true larrikin style, the Australians reclaimed the name as a badge of pride, even going so far as to strike their own unofficial medal of courage bearing the likeness of a rat. 

To read more about this outstanding contribution: