Historical information

A photo of a mural in Libya painted by a South Australian Sapper of a bottle of Victorian Bitter Ale being poured into the Melbourne Cup trophy and horses racing. The photo, and two others, were sent to Melbourne Legacy in 1979 by Legatee Syd Wilson of Yamba NSW. He thought Melbourne Legacy might be able to use them to generate money by selling them for advertising or publicity. He said they were enlargements of snapshots he had found in his old army trunk.
The text says 'A good thing for the Cup but better for the tonsils'. Legatee Wilson's letter says the murals were: 'painted on three walls of a white concrete Italian block house (Police Check post I think), some 18/20 miles west of Tobruk, between Tobruk and Derna, and near a captured Italian airfield, somewhere about February 1941.
Obviously they were painted by a Victorian Sapper. They were very well done, by a competent Sign-writer/artist, in correct and excellent colours (captured Itie paint no doubt - there was plenty in their Naval Stores at Tobruk).' (NB Itie was slang for Italian).
'The photos were there when we were coming back from Western Libya sometime in March 1941, prior to the 6th Division going to Greece.'
From the AWM website the signs were painted by South Australian painter, SZ538 Sapper Leslie John “Doc” Dawes, 2/3rd Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers. There are several photos on the AWM site including the building the three murals were on.


Photos taken by a Legatee when on active service in Libya in World War 2. They were donated to Legacy when it was thought they could be used for fundraising, which shows that Legatees were conscious of the way Legacy needs to generate funds to continue its work.

Physical description

Black and white enlargement of a photo taken in Libya of Victorian Bitter Ale for the Melbourne Cup mural.