Bob Semple's story

Bob Semple enlisted on 18 June 1940. He was proud to be one of the 'Rats of Tobruk' and also fought in the Battle of El Alamein. Later he would serve in the Brunei Bay area of Borneo. Bob thought the jungle fighting was more physically demanding than fighting in the desert due to the invisibility of the enemy.

Bob was first attached to the 2/2nd Medium Artillery but due to a lack of equipment, the medium artillery units were formed into field regiments. So Bob was assigned to the 2/12th Field Artillery Regiment and attached to the 9th Division. He remembered the vital support of the Navy at Tobruk, as well as the incessant air attacks from Stuka dive-bombers. He recalled the psychological and physical toll that holding Tobruk had on the defenders.

An enduring and sad memory Bob carried was of the tragedy involving 10 of his mates. They were all killed when an artillery shell struck a truck in which they were travelling.

It was Bob's belief that the Australians at Tobruk were commanded by good officers and that the instructors who trained them in the use of weapons were excellent. He said that the 'product knowledge' learned saved lives. He recalled having to use captured enemy equipment because of the shortage in their own.

Bob attained the rank of sergeant and was discharged 13 November 1945.

Bob passed away in January 2020.

Last updated: 17 November 2022

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2022), Bob Semple's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 6 February 2023,
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