Tobruk: The lifting of the siege, 75 years ago

HMAS Waterhen in Sydney Harbour, c1925–33. ANMM Collection 00021576.

HMAS Waterhen in Sydney Harbour, c1925–33. ANMM Collection 00021576.

The 9th of December 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Tobruk, the port on the north coast of Libya that proved such a thorn in the side of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel during the eight months that the siege lasted. The Australian War Memorial describes it as one of the longest sieges in British military history.

Whenever the siege of Tobruk is remembered, the Australian soldiers, who formed the greater part of the garrison for most of the time, are quite rightly afforded pride of place.

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The three Mysteries: the Island, the Star and the disappearance

Brian Abbot and his wife Grace Rikard Bell on board SS Morinda. This photograph was also published in The Australian Women’s Weekly on 24 October 1936
Samuel J Hood Studio
ANMM Collection

On 5 September 1936, crowds gathered at wharf 10 in Walsh Bay, Sydney to farewell the cast and crew of a new Australian ‘talkie’, Mystery Island. Among those at the wharf about to board SS Morinda was actor Brian Abbot who was photographed, by Samuel J Hood, farewelling his wife Grace Rikard Bell. They appear happily embracing each other, completely unaware that this would be the last time they would see each other. Over a month after this photograph was taken, Brian Abbot and fellow castmate, Desmond Hay, set off on a risky voyage across the ‘stormy Tasman’ from Lord Howe Island to Sydney – the two were never seen again. Continue reading