IT was a special day at Geebung RSL last Tuesday, October 23 as two Rats of Tobruk joined the Geebung regulars for a service to commemorate the battle of El-Alamein.
David Edward Hooper of Shorncliffe and Gordon Wallace of Keperra were the stars of the day as they shared their memories.
The group recited an ode, lowered the flag and laid wreaths to remember those who had passed.
Mr Wallace shared a recount of the last pitched battles that Australia was engaged in at El-Alamein.
“This took place from late June to November 4, 1942, when the enemy withdrew and were eventually driven out of Africa, with Rommel’s dream of taking the Suez Canal and the Oil Fields of the Middle East becoming a nightmare,” he said.
“What the 9th Division had held for eight months, and denied Rommel access to the Canal and oil fields, they lost in a short time, allowing Rommel to continue his drive towards Egypt.
“The allied troops had withdrawn to a place called El-Alamein, the only place where they had a chance of holding the enemy at bay.”
Mr Wallace also shared some more lighthearted memories including two of his men arguing over how their porridge was made.
“I could tell you so much more about Alamein. A lot of it funny, and a lot not humorous at all. But if you lost your sense of humour, you were going to have a very worrisome and unhappy war,” he said.
Geebung RSL deputy president Trish Lesina said it was important to acknowledge those who fought in the battle of El-Alamein.
“For Australians this was a very big battle and this commemorative service was to remember what happened all those years ago.
“It was a battle that went on for a long time and our blokes were called the Rats of Tobruk and they were marvellous, they won the day in the end.
“We had two Rats of Tobruk here which is a really big thing because there are less than 100 left alive in Australia now.
“It’s just lovely the way they share and are so open to telling us how it really was, even though we can’t imagine in our wildest dreams what it was like.
“It’s important to recognise what they went through and how many died to keep our country free.”
After the service the group gathered for lunch, which involved more storytelling.
“For me it’s such a cultural experience because I’m getting real face-to-face knowledge of what went on – it’s really a special occasion when I have the chance to speak to veterans myself,” Ms Lesina said.