Concert In A Cave At Tobruk

In October 1941, during the siege of Tobruk by German and Italian forces, the ABC Field Unit, led by war correspondent Chester Wilmot, recorded a unique concert held in an ammunition cave. This concert featured 400 Australian soldiers, who were known as the “Rats of Tobruk.” Wilmot, who was pioneering the use of recording equipment in the field, captured the event on lacquer discs, providing a vivid auditory experience of the scene. You can listen to part of the concert here.

The concert showcased various musical performances, including a short song called “Bless Them All” and an instrumental piece featuring saxophone and piano accordion. The acoustics within the cave were surprisingly good, enhancing the quality of the recording. The highlight of the concert was a stirring rendition of “The Legion of the Lost,” performed by a soldier and backed by a makeshift military choir. The massed voices brought the song to an energetic and uplifting conclusion, capturing the spirit of camaraderie and resilience among the Australian soldiers during a time of intense conflict.

I have written previously about my great uncle Oscar Geoffrey Buring whose war diary I have. Uncle Geoff wasn’t in Tobruk at the time of this concert he was away doing training in Palestine. Here is an excerpt from his diary explaining where he was going:

Conference 0930. My movement order to No3 Course Platoon Weapons Wing, AIF
(ME0 Small Arms School, Reinforcements Depot Palestine one 23 rd Sept. Warning
order to Coy re movement to perimeter again on 21/22 Sep. Changing with 2/32 on
Derna Road Sector I think. Slept during pm Boys went swimming. Had “dinner at
Coy HQ” Seemed funny to be only original A Coy Offr left. Ferrier seems a decent
sort of bloke and 100% on Reid. Packing gear after tea. Dick got some good powder
bowl souvenirs today from a bloke at MDS. Made out of 75mm shell cases Back to
Coy HQ for supper. Willie has opened his heart.

I don’t know how many of the 2/43rd went to do the training and how many were at the concert. Does anyone else know this? If you do please let us know in the comments.

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