Gordon Hughes

‘We adopted the term, rats, as our own.’

9 June 2020

Today we remember Gordon Hughes, who served as a stretcher-bearer in the Middle East. He was one of the ‘Rats of Tobruk’ and is quietly proud of the name and its origins.

Gordon Hughes — We adopted the term, rats, as our own.

Gordon Hughes audio file (MP4 23.85 MB)

Gordon Hughes audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” – (The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia)

On the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Australia remembers Gordon Hughes, who served as a stretcher-bearer in the Middle East. He was one of the ‘Rats of Tobruk’ and, I might add, very proud of the name and its origins.

Gordon Hughes

We’d been in Tobruk for a few weeks, and our boys had been giving the Germans and the Italians a fairly hard time.

Part of the idea of winning the war of course was psychological and this fellow in Germany named William Joyce, they used to call him ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, he was a British traitor who was broadcasting at night-time.

He said “and there you are, you Australian soldiers, hiding like rats in holes in the desert”.

We thought this was rather amusing actually, and far from regarding it as an insult. We adopted the term ‘rats’ as our own.

We used to go around and say to fellows “Oh Christ, you are looking more like a rat every day!”

No we were rather proud actually, in a quiet way, of being called ‘Rats of Tobruk’.

Saturday August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.