RATS OF TOBRUK MEMORIAL PROJECT.
Early in 1998 the Bundaberg Rats of Tobruk ( R.O.T.) committee approached the Bundaberg City Council to consider allocating some land, suitable in position and size, to erect a Memorial to commemorate the historic Siege of Tobruk, from 10th April to 7th December, 1941. The Council were very receptive to the request and asked the R.O.T. committee to supply detailed plans for the structure and their objectives, which would assist them in selecting a site.
The actual Monument design was already fixed, as it was to be a replica of the one built by the 9th. Division Engineers in the Tobruk cemetery during the 242 day siege, dedicated to those who paid the supreme sacrifice and those who have died since.
The site chosen by Council, was part of a park constructed by the Lions Club of Bundaberg some 20 years previous, and at a meeting between Council, R.O.T, and the Lions Club of Bundaberg, it was agreed that the proposal would be a wonderful community project. The Club accepted responsibility to organise and develop the project, and formed a small works planning group including representatives from all three parties. The group were fortunate to obtain the services of Mr. Stan Lohse, who had the constructional expertise to plan and supervise the technical work required. Stan had a lifetime in the building game, having the name Lohse Constructions responsible for many of the major buildings in the city, and has a record that is hard to equal in volunteering this expertise to community-based projects such as this. He was also the man to have in securing the required building materials from the various supply companies in the city, as donated or at a special cost.
The R.O.T. committee, Jack Toohey (President), Jack Liddell (V.P.), Eric Moar (Sec.) and Lester Tregear, 4 men all in their 80"s, agreed to obtain whatever funding they could through Government, Veterans Affairs and public contributions, finally totalling around $10,000. Late in April, a landscape plan was drawn up by a local company, and agreed to by council. It was a much more spectacular plan than any of the committee had originally envisaged, turning the entire area into a layout of gardens, lawns and pathways, with the Monument as the central feature. The initial planning was complete and with the R.O.T. setting October 30th 1998 as the official opening date, we had quite a job ahead of us.
PROJECT SUMMARY. The base for the monument was started on April 17th 1998, and work continued at a rather slow pace through May/June, because of some difficulties in securing volunteer trades people (bricklayers) at that time of the year. After June 30th things started to move along at a much more satisfying rate, with the cement block structure complete, the really big task of doing the pathways and gardens got underway. At this stage an irrigation company had become interested in what was happening and offered to supply materials to have a computer-controlled irrigation system around the monument installed at their cost. This later developed into a system that covered the whole area of lawns and gardens, but the installation would have to be our responsibility. This added many hours to the workload, but for the benefit and future maintenance of the Memorial Park, it was a very worthwhile addition to the plan. Electric power was installed, including two large sodium floodlights which operate every night with the street light control, providing a very pleasing view from the adjacent highway into the city, as well as a deterrent to any vandalism. The City Council Parks Dept. supplied the 12 developed palm trees and the majority of the plants and shrubs required from the council nursery. Early in the project, 2 members of the R.O.T. committee addressed the staff and students of the West State School, which borders one side of the Park, on the history of the event that this Memorial would commemorate. They became very interested and a section of the garden was set aside for a student group to plant and agreed to be responsible to maintain into the future, which was great to see. A brief cost summary of materials and volunteer labour used is as follows. Monument:- 5 metres high, 300 cement blocks. Foundation and base surrounds:- 22 cubic met. concrete. Paths 340 sq. met., (34 cubic met. aggregate concrete) Lawn areas laid. 310 sq. met. Itemised list of materials paid for totalled $13,310.00 Assessed value of materials and equipment donated $30,104.00 Volunteer Labour Lions Club members =720 Hours Trades people & R.O.T. family members = 634 Hours Total 1354 Hours @ $20 =$27,080.00 Total. $70,494.00 Note:-These hours do not include the many hours put in by the planning group during the project. This was the largest project that the Club had taken on for a number of years and was obviously enjoyed by the members, as the numbers were always readily available for the many working bees that were required to meet the deadline that had been set.
The Club was later involved in working with Council on beautifying the smaller park area (Boot Park) across from the R.O.T. Memorial, which now contains memorial plaques to the following wartime campaigns and groups: Royal Australian Navy & Merchant Navy Australian Flying Corps/Royal Australian Air Force Australian Defence Force (Women) 47th Australian Infantry Battalion (Wide Bay Regiment) Milne Bay Kokoda Campaign Australian Military Forces & Citizens Prisoners of War National Serviceman's Australian of Australia Korean War South Vietnam This area is aptly named Lions Remembrance Park. The Club should be proud to have been involved in creating a very much admired park area at such a visible position in our city. Contributed by Charter Member Noel Searle.
Bundaberg Lions Club members would like to express their sadness at the loss of Jack Toohey (Former President of the Rats of Tobruk Assn in Bundaberg) who died in August 2009. Jack was a very respected member of the Bundaberg community and will be missed.
Go to the link below Qld Government Registry of War Monuments.
http://www.qldwarmemorials.com.au/pages/MemoDet.aspx?Memorial=Bundaberg Rats of Tobruk Memorial
See links about the Rats of Tobruk :