Historical information

Why the name 'Rats of Tobruk'? A former British citizen William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw-Haw, broadcast Nazi propaganda World War II. His announcement ‘Germany calling, Germany calling’ was a familiar sound across the airwaves, broadcasting misinformation Hamburg. During the Tobruk siege, he often referred to the men defending the garrison at Tobruk as “poor desert rats of Tobruk, who live like rats and will die like rats. The Australian soldiers loved the term ‘Rats of Tobruk’ and adopted it as a badge of honour. Calling themselves the ‘Rats of Tobruk’, they turned the derogatory comments back against the Germans.

William Joyce was eventually captured and returned to Britain, where he was later hanged for treason in January 1946.


This item is part of a collection of items owned by Arthur Lock, a member of the 2/23rd Battalion, an all-volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force which served as part of the garrison during the Siege of Tobruk, then at El Alamein, New Guinea and Borneo. It has particular local significance as the battalion was know as "Albury's Own" because a large majority of the battalion's initial intake of volunteers came from the Albury–Wodonga region.

Physical description

A plastic and enamel badge of the Rats of Tobruk Association mounted on a wood base. The logo appears to be one of only a small number to use the acronym R.O.T.A above the more common Association Logo.