Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Rats of Tobruk 2016

The Rats of Tobruk Annual Luncheon 2016
75th Anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk
I read somewhere that,

All that stopped the Germans’ march on Egypt was the defiant garrison at Tobruk. 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.

As you know, the “Rats” were called ‘rats” by the Germans because “They lived in [those] dug-outs, caves and crevasses.” I don’t know how true it is but it has been said that there are no atheists in foxholes, or, in our case in point, “rat-holes”! Regardless, I’m sure that many prayers, even fervent prayers would’ve been sent up to God from those dugouts, caves and crevasses seventy five years ago during the eight months’ siege of Tobruk! – prayers for personal safety, for mates, for families and loved-ones and prayers for peace.

When you think about it, countless prayers have gone up over the centuries seeking for God to bring about peace among the nations so that we can all live in safety. The so called Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” Those are the words Jesus taught His disciples to pray. Those are the words we have just prayed. Therefore, it is the promise of God that there will be a time of world peace, for God cannot break His Word!

We already heard that “[God] shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

This is the Word of the LORD through His prophet Isaiah. It says somewhat of the same thing as Jesus teaches us in The Lord’s Prayer only using different words: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – an extension of this surely is that “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

To be sure, swords and spears have long given way to more sophisticated instruments of war. It may be true that there are only so many ways you can skin a cat but it seems that they’re always finding new ways how to kill human beings!  Even in the seventy five years since the Siege of Tobruk there has been a significant improvement (if we can call it that) in the efficiency of killing-devices. However, the point remains the same: There is a time coming, and I don’t know when, but there is a time coming when our prayers for peace will be fully answered.

Swords and spears, guns and grenades, bayonet’s and bombs, machineguns and missiles, tanks and torpedos, bombers and battleships, will all be assigned to the great scrapheap of history,  for “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

The Rats of Tobruk at the Siege of Tobruk did their part in defeating an enemy of peace seventy five years ago. To those Rats living and dead we say a grateful thank you! To those who lost their lives at Tobruk Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus ought to know the truth of these words!

Freedom never comes for free. There’s always a price to pay. Let us never forget those who paid the ultimate price in purchasing us the freedom we still enjoy, freedom to come and go as we please, freedom to disagree with our government without being taken away in the middle of the night. Freedom comes in many forms, national and individual, but The Rats of Tobruk helped to purchase our freedom to raise our families under the Southern Cross in our home that is girt by sea.

As we hear the kookaburra laugh on the old gumtree,
As we camp by a billabong in the “lucky country”
As we stroll in the city or we swim in the sea,
Let us never forget those who died to keep us free!

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