“The second year of the war had begun with a series of impressive British and Commonwealth successes against the Italians in
Australian troops led the advance. But a rapid German offensive quickly
reversed these early victories. All that stopped the Germans’ march on Libya was the
defiant garrison at Tobruk.” Egypt
Did you get that line? “All that stopped the Germans’ march on
was the defiant garrison at Tobruk.” I like that word “defiant”, especially
when the defiance is against an unlawful aggressor. That little garrison, that
defiant garrison at Tobruk, was the line in the sand, the desert sand. It was
as if they had sent the Germans a letter, saying, “Dear German offensive. If
you wish to march on Egypt ,
first you will have to go through us. Signed, ‘The Rats of Tobruk.’” Egypt ! Defiance
So, how did the German offensive and their Italian cohorts reply to this khaki line in the sand, this letter of defiance as it were? The article went on to say,
“For eight long months, surrounded by German and Italian forces, the men of the Tobruk garrison, mostly Australians, withstood tank attacks, artillery barrages, and daily bombings. They endured the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms. They lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses.”
The “Rats” were called “rats” by the Germans because, “They lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses.” That is bad. The living conditions were deplorable. And then there was the weather, “the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms.” No central heating. No air-conditioning. No fridge to fetch a cold beer from. Just searing heat, bitter cold and eye-stinging winds! Wouldn’t this be bad enough? Wouldn’t enduring this sort of hardship for eight months even without being surrounded by the enemy be a real test of endurance, a real test of determination?
I’ve seen tanks up close on exercise. I have seen them fire rounds that blow giant craters in hillsides. Such terrifying firepower! I would hate to have to face a tank while I was in a dug-out, a cave or some crevasse. Imagine undergoing artillery barrages and daily bombings! The German offensive really wanted to cross that line in the desert sand! “Too bad,” said the Rats of Tobruk. Such defiance!
The article went on to say,
“The defenders of Tobruk did not surrender, they did not retreat. Their determination, bravery, and humour, combined with the aggressive tactics of their commanders, became a source of inspiration during some of the war’s darkest days. In so doing, they achieved lasting fame as the ‘Rats of Tobruk’.”
So the defiance of the Rats of Tobruk “became a source of inspiration during some of the war’s darkest days.” There is something about defiance that inspires! It is the story of David and Goliath. It is the story of Jesus and the Devil!
in the face of what would seem to be
certain defeat takes a certain amount of bravery. I would suggest a great deal
a bravery! Defiance
We say a humble and grateful “thank you” to those who fought at Tobruk. And, to those who lost their lives at Tobruk Scripture says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Christ said those words, and He should know!
No, we do not wish to glorify war. We hate war because we love peace. We all wish it did not, but peace comes at a price. Yes, thank you “The Rats of Tobruk” for the important part you played in winning peace for us!