Tribute to the Garrison of Tobruk

The 'Bush artillery' in action at Tobruk - soldiers from all branches of the army were drafted in to make use of captured Italian guns.

On 13th August 1941 the journalist Richard Capell recorded his tribute to the Garrison of Tobruk, and in particular to the anti-aircraft gunners. It was part of a broadcast that went world wide:

It is one of the greatest privileges of a life-time to have been admitted to the brotherhood of the Garrison of Tobruk, a brotherhood of Australians, Indians and British who for four months have been writing one of the most dramatic chapters in British military history.

Whatever the future holds, the defence of Tobruk will be the ‘locus classicus’ of anti-aircraft gunnery. It is a war of wits between hostile aircraft and Tobruk’s anti-aircraft gunners, who have developed their art to the highest pitch of skill, courage and endurance.

I have paid them many visits and feel, each time, that these men represent a heroic spirit mankind can hardly surpass. They have come to consider as normal a life fantastically abnormal, and increasingly uncertain, with enough excitement in a typical 24 hours to satisfy the ordinary citizen for a life-time.

Everyone in Tobruk thinks the other fellow is the best in the world. Each Australian Brigade maintains that its associated British Artillery is incomparable. All within the perimeter share the day’s hazard, and at Fortress Headquarters a General, who fought in Gallipoli, calls his garrison a team.

It is a unity welded by long months of peril and isolation, fighting against the odds. Troops raw, six months ago, are now expert in desert craft. Boys within weeks, turn into hardened men.

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