100 Years

1918 - 2018

Marking the end of World War I

Roy Webber, 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, 9th Division, World War Two

by Leon Webber

Before World War Two, my father took me to the ANZAC Rifle Range in Liverpool, one of Sydney’s outer suburbs. He was a member of the Railways Rifle Club and was Club champion for a few years. The rifle range had a 300 to 900-yard distance and the 303 rifle was very accurate up to 900 yards.

Roy WebberWhen war was declared, my father volunteered to join the armed forces, as he said, “to protect his wife and family.” He was not very patriotic. He was sent to the 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, 9th Division and was assigned to Tobruk, North Africa in the early 1940s.

The German and Italian armies surrounded Tobruk and attacked a number of times but the Australian and British forces repelled their attacks. There were months of waiting to see what the Axis powers would do.

At night, my father would take a 303 rifle and a telescope he would borrow from one of the artillery guns and move to the most forward trench position to the Italian lines. As it became light, through the telescope he could see the Italians shaking their blanks after a night’s sleep.

He used sandbags to support the rifle as he altered the angle to get more distance when the sights were not long enough. When daylight came, he would fire one shot and look through the telescope to see where it hit the sand and then raise the angle of the gun higher as necessary. By the time the bullet reached the Italians it was well spent and just fell down.

After trying this four or five times, he set the gun up ready to fire at first light when an Italian shell landed to his left, then another to his right. He quickly carried his gun and telescope back to the Australian forces.

He was summoned before the Australian Commander and told, “You do that again and I’ll have you court-martialled. I don’t want to start a war. They are not shelling us and we want peace. And by the way, those shells the Italians fired at you, they could have put them down your throat if they wanted to. You were very lucky.”

“Bloody mad Australian,” said the Poms.

My father came home when the war in North Africa was over, with a wounded leg to remind him of Tobruk. He went back to the railways after the war and became yard controller of all freight trains going in and out of Sydney’s railways.

He retired at 60. He was always happy with a gun or fishing rod in his hand.

©Leon Webber, 2019

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