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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - The Hon Dan Tehan MP

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Minister for Defence Materiel

10 April 2016

Remembering the Rats of Tobruk 75 years on

Veterans and the wider community today paused to remember the courage and ingenuity of the famous ‘Rats of Tobruk’ on the 75th anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Dan Tehan, attended a commemorative service at the Rats of Tobruk Memorial in Canberra to acknowledge the courage and endurance of the men who took such enormous risks to defend Tobruk.

“Today is a very special commemoration, with 25 ‘Rats’ of Tobruk travelled to Canberra to commemorate together on the 75th anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk,” Mr Tehan said.

“The eight month-long siege of Tobruk is one of the Second World War’s best known events. Allied forces, two thirds of whom were Australian, held out in the scorching heat of the Libyan Desert against the German Afrika Korps.

“The bravery of these men and the sailors who supported them stalled the enemy’s advance on Egypt and denied the Germans the use of Tobruk’s harbour.

“These men carried the name ‘Rats of Tobruk’ with honour and with humour, representing those traits with which Australian service personnel have long been associated – dedication, determination and a larrikin wit.”

Between April and December 1941, more than fifteen thousand Australians from the 7th and 9th Divisions fought as part of an Allied force to defend Tobruk and its harbour, while Australian sailors braved enemy aircraft, mines and submarines to carry supplies into, and the wounded out of Tobruk.

More information is available at

Media enquiries:

Minister Tehan’s Office: 02 6277 7820
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.