Sir Leslie Morshead Memorial Fountain
Sydney, NSW, Australia

A memorial fountain dedicated to Lt. General Leslie James Morshead, K.C.B., K.B.E., C.M.G., D.S.O., located at the entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia. Morshead was the commander of the Tobruk Garrison (a.k.a. the Rats of Tobruk).

The Australian 9th Division with elements of 7th Divisions, supported by British and Indian troops, held the important Libyan port city of Tobruk while under constant aerial and ground attack by the vastly superior Afrika Corps commanded by Erwin Rommel.  Referred to by Nazi propaganda as being like desert rats caught in a trap, the garrison quickly adopted the tag Rats Of Tobruk, successfully holding Tobruk for eight months prior to their being relieved.

The besieged Rats of Tobruk were supplied by a flotilla of five aging ex Royal Navy WWI destroyers transferred to the Royal Australian Navy during the 1930s.  As the Nazi forces enjoyed almost complete air superiority over the Mediterranean, these ships endured constant aerial attack during their passage to and from Tobruk and were forced to mostly land their supplies under the cover of darkness. In similar fashion to the Rats, the German propaganda referred to these ships as a pile of scrap iron and with typically Australian "up you" humour, the name Scrap Iron Flotilla was quickly adopted for the HMA ships Stuart, Voyager, Vampire, Vendetta and Waterhen.

Another view of the fountain with the Public Library of New South Wales in the background.
(All photos and text courtesy of Peter F. Williams)
© 2013 Peter F. Williams all rights reserved

Page published Mar. 29, 2014