The year 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of Australia's first major battles of the Second World War. These actions and campaigns were fought in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, where the three Australian services were in action throughout 1941. In recognition of these significant events, a special anniversary exhibition will open at the Australian War Memorial, focusing on the famous siege of Tobruk. For eight months, from April until December 1941, Australian and British troops defiantly held the fortress of Tobruk in western Libya. Opening on 18 March, Rats of Tobruk, 1941 will be on display until mid-November 2011.

The Defenders of Tobruk.Photograph dated 5 September 1941 showing guards at 9th Division Rear HQ at Tobruk (negative by Frank Hurley) AWM007494 The Defenders of Tobruk. Photograph dated 5 September 1941
showing guards at 9th Division Rear HQ at Tobruk
(negative by Frank Hurley).AWM007494

To accompany this exhibition, the education team have prepared a blog, featuring diary entries of two men who were there: Chaplain Owen Thomas Cosgriff and Warrant Officer Class II Arthur Francis Bryant, as well as extracts from the letters of Captain Edmund Crawford Lecky MBE. Every day, we will be uploading diary entries and extracts from letters, all written on that day's date 70 years ago, in 1941. More information on the Siege of Tobruk.

The following blog provides information about the action that took place over an eight-month period in and around Tobruk. It also highlights the conditions of war and provides personal insight into the lives, personalities, and achievements of individuals who experienced it. This blog, therefore, is dedicated to those men who were there, to those who came home, and to those who never left. Here's to the Rats of Tobruk!

Blog: Tobruk diaries

Exhibition: Rats of Tobruk, 1941