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The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 16, April 17, 2011, Article 14

More on the Rats of Tobruk Medal

Rats Of Tobruk Medal

I posted last week's query about the Rats of Tobruk medal on Facebook and asked, "In modern Libya, is this area under rebel control today?" -Editor

Dan Freidus replied:

Yes, this port in the east of Libya is apparently under rebel control now.

Dan added a link to this recent news article: -Editor

A tanker left the port of Tobruk on Wednesday carrying the first consignment of oil since the rebel government won recognition from some countries.

But the country's deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim accused Britain of bombing Libya's biggest oil field at Al-Sarir in the southeast, notably damaging the pipeline linking Al Sarir and Tobruk, which is under rebel control.

To read the complete article, see: Nato 'careful' over strikes, rebel oil leaves Tobruk (www.emirates247.com/news/region/nato-careful-over-strikes
-rebel-oil-leaves-tobruk-2011-04-07-1.378224)

Dan Freidus adds:

The medal was supposedly cast from the fuselage of a German bomber they shot down (I wasn't familiar with the medal and just used Google but this site seems likely to be fairly reliable).

It was in the heat and dust of Tobruk that Australian tenacity and courage achieved its supreme expression. Air raids which had gone into the thousands before unofficial statisticians lost count had no more effect on members of the garrison than the enemy's artillery, strafing and attacks by tanks

The siege was only a couple of months old when the renegade Lord Haw Haw, broadcasting from Berlin, said they were "caught like rats in a trap" and applied it to the garrison because most of its men could find shelter only underground while the bombers were overhead. Our men accepted the title with relish. To one another, they were "the rats." To the Axis they were rats with razor-sharp teeth. They became "The Rats of Tobruk"

To read the complete article, see: Defence of Tobruk (www.army.gov.au/11_28rwar/History.asp)

Finally, Dan adds:

Here is the 1977 medal, not a restrike or copy but a completely different issue.

Tobruk 1977 Medal The Tobruk Siege Medal known as the "T" medal was issued to Australian, British, Indian, New Zealand & Polish troops who were in action during the Siege of Tobruk between April & December 1941.

The Tobruk Siege Medal is an unofficial award issued by the "Rats of Tobruk" Association in 1977.

To read the complete article see: (www.medalsofservice.com.au/product_info.php?products_id=923)

Fred Schwan writes:

I really liked the information on the Rats of Tobruk. I tried to figure out the text on the reverse. The number at the top (254) is likely a serial number, but the T.X. 813 and Bingham F. P. are much more difficult. Bingham sounds like a place but could be a person. Possibly the meanings are obvious to an Australian collector. So much for resolving an unsolved mystery. Possibly Damien Lewis who submitted the image and had a relative who was a rat knows some of this.

Fred Schwan adds:

I have heard from Tony James about the medal. He says that the T.X. is part of the serial number of the fellow named therein.

Damien Lewis writes:

Yes, that's my relative, and yes, it is his service number. The first letter "T" identifies the serviceman's home state, in this case Tasmania.

The information I have on the medal so far, is that they were made by the Australian Field Engineers from a German bomber shot down during the conflict that lasted some 8 months, and about 300 of the medals were produced and given to selected soldiers. The original was cast from dental plaster.

The number shown at the top on the reverse is the sequence number. From my understanding there were something like 25,000 troops based there during the siege, mostly Australian. My relative spent quite some time there and was an engineer himself, so these are no doubt contributing factors as to why he received it. The recipient of this particular medal, was born in a small mining town on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia.

Thanks to everyone for their help on this. Interesting story and medal! -Editor

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