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A tribute to Brisbane’s war heroes for ANZAC Day
2 Jul 2012

LIVING LEGEND Jack Anning was one of the ‘rats’ of Tobruk and a foot soldier involved in a siege lasting 240 days in the western desert of North Africa during World War II.   

 The Zion Lutheran Home resident was in the trenches as the tanks rolled over them and captured enemy troops in a battle which defeated German commander Ponath who was part of Erwin Rommel’s 5th Light Brigade.

 The Nundah war veteran was featured in the book Tobruk’s Easter Battle –1941 The Forgotten Fifteenth’s Date with Rommel’s Champion by John Mackenzie-Smith.

The non-fiction book recounts the remarkable story of more than 20,000 Australian troops, one of them Jack, who spent around eight months in trenches pushing the enemy army back from Egypt.

 Jack spent five years in the Australian Fighting Services including serving eight months in Papua New Guinea and landing at Scarlet Beach where Japanese soldiers ambushed many troops on arrival.

On 23 October 1942 he fought at the second battle of El Alamein as a Sergeant where allied forces broke the axis line and forced them all the way back to Tunisia.

“Winston Churchill after the war wrote: "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat,"”  Jack said.

This ANZAC Day on 25 April the former soldier will attend the Dawn Service in Brisbane’s CBD at the Shrine of Remembrance at 4.30am.

 “I lost a lot of good friends in the wars and people back home lost sons and daughters,” he said.

 “ANZAC Day is not about glorifying war it’s about remembering those who paid the price.”

He came back after five years unscathed but sadly after a few years after his return he fell from a horse and has been disabled ever since.

 Well-known Queenslander Cyril Gilbert has mentored the veteran community since returning from war in 1945 and is Honorary Life Vice President of the RSL Queensland branch.

He is an ex-prisoner of War (POW) captured in Singapore in 1942. In 1983 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to the veteran community and a Centenary Award in 2003.

Cyril said ANZAC Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915.

“We need to pass on the information to younger generations so they know the atrocities of war,” he said.

 “ANZAC Day honours all of those who fought in the war, it remembers comrades who died and pays respect to the patriotic response to the call of empire and voluntary enlistment in the Australian Fighting Services.”

Cyril said there were around 800 ex-POWs left alive from World War II and he would be walking in in honour of all who died in the ANZAC Day March starting at 9am.

Zion Lutheran Home Manager Maria Mulheran said this an important date on the Australian calendar.

“ANZAC Day is an important day to remember those men who laid down their lives to make Australia a free and democratic society,” she said.

“Jack has made a valuable contribution to Australian history.”


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