A 102 year old WWII 'rat of Tobruk', one of the last surviving members of his battalion, attended the Wangaratta ANZAC day service on Sunday to commemorate his battalion and pay his respects to those that fought by his side.
Veteran Hautrie "Harry" Crick was posted to Tobruk when he was 21 years old and fought in the war for nearly six years.
"I was in the 2/24 battalion," Mr Crick said.
The 2/24 battalion was made up of men from the Wangaratta and surrounding areas and Mr Crick said he wanted to attend the town's service to represent his "mates in the army, who (were) past away and present".
Wangaratta RSL Ceremonial Coordinator Elizabeth Rouse Salmon said the 2/24 battalion marched to Bonegilla in 1940.
"They finished doing their basic training up there and then they were shipped off to Tobruk," she said.
The soldiers who fought at Tobruk used a network of underground defensive positions to fight their campaign.
A German propagandist described them as the 'rats of Tobruk', but the ANZACs reclaimed the name as a badge of pride and symbol of their tenacity and resilience.
"They went underground and they just would not give in," Ms Rouse Salmon said.
She said after Tobruk the battalion went on to fight in a number of different places.
"They did the full run.
"A lot of them were taken prisoner.
"A lot of them died."
IN OTHER NEWS:
"It's good that the descendants are keeping the history ongoing," she said.
Mr Crick said members of the association had driven him to the service, after he was in hospital.
"I'm the last able to get around," he said.
"There's one (a 2/24 battalion veteran) in our units where I am, but he couldn't come."
Mr Crick said he was proud to see the "enormous" crowd at the service.
"The respect of the Wangaratta people for the battalion, I think it's overwhelming.
"The way they came out today, they've always done it, but this is the biggest ever.
"Thanks all the crowd on a beautiful day."
Ms Rouse Salmon said up to 2000 people attended the event.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.