2016 20c Coin 'Anzac to Afghanistan' - RATS OF TOBRUK
Under constant artillery fire, frequent air attacks and repeated ground assaults, the Libyan port of Tobruk remained in Allied hands between April and August 1941, despite the odds. The so-called Rats of Tobruk - the name given to the British and Australian garrison that held their ground there - dug deep against a German-Italian army commanded by General Erwin Rommel. Despite the barrage, they held on to maintain control of the vital port city.
More than 14,000 Australian troops were besieged in Tobruk by Rommel's German-Italian army. The garrison, commanded by Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, consisted of the 9th Division, the 18th Brigade, four regiments of British artillery and some Indian troops. It was vital for the Allies to hold Tobruk and its harbour for the defence of the Suez Canal in Egypt. The Nazi propagandist Lord Haw Haw derided the tenacious defenders as “rats” - a term that the Australian soldiers embraced as an ironic compliment. Despite the shelling and the constant threat of German dive-bombers in Tobruk harbour, the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy provided the garrison's only link to the outside world. All Australian troops were relieved from Tobruk in December 1941.
|Brand||Royal Australian Mint|
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