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Invitation to Exhibition: Czechs and Slovaks in Brodie Helmets

The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Canberra, in collaboration with the Rats of Tobruk Association Melbourne, have the pleasure of inviting you to an exhibition on the cooperation between the Czechoslovak and Australian armed forces during World War II, with a special emphasis on a significant battle of World War II – the Siege of Tobruk.

The first shots of the Second World War were fired on 1 September 1939 in the middle of Europe, far from the shores of Australia. However, the sound of those shots reverberated all the way to the land down under. Even though in the 6 years to come the horrors of ground combat did not reach the Australian continent, thousands of Australian soldiers fought on battlefields in the Pacific, Asia, Europe and North Africa.

When the war broke out, almost 1000 Czechoslovaks lived in Australia. Many of them volunteered to join the war effort. Czechoslovak volunteers received Australian uniforms and were deployed to the Middle East, where they were absorbed into the Czechoslovak brigades and later joined battles alongside Australian units.

In April 1941 around 14,000 Australian soldiers were besieged for several months in Tobruk by a German–Italian army. In one of his broadcasts, the Nazi propagandist William Joyce described the tenacious defenders as being caught 'like rats in a trap'. This was a term that the Allied soldiers embraced as an ironic compliment and hence the term “Desert Rats”.

From August 1941, Australian soldiers had been relieved by the British, Polish and Czechoslovak forces. Our Exhibition focuses on the Czechoslovak battalion formation and its involvement during the battle, Czechoslovak-Australian interactions during World War II, the aftermath and the Czechoslovak soldiers in Australian exile after the war.


The opening will take place on Saturday 6 May at 1 pm at the Tobruk House in Melbourne.
Refreshments will be provided following the opening of the exhibition.

For more information and to register, please visit our Eventbrite page using the link below: