FRED BROGDEN INSPIRED BY HIS RAT OF TOBRUK DAD TO WRITE: ” IF JESUS WAS AN AUSSIE”
Anzac Day is very special to well-known island pastor, Fred Brogden.
And not just because it also happens that April 25 is his birthday!
The real reason why he regards Anzac Day so highly has everything to do with his family history.
You see, his father, Claude Edwards (Teddy) Brogden, was part of one of the greatest wartime legends of all.
He was a Rat of Tobruk.
The Germans in WW2 weren’t to know that the derogatory term they made up for the Australian and British soldiers who held the might of the German panzer divisions of the famous ‘Desert Fox’, German General Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Corp, would become to be regarded with affection, resistance and fame.
The 14,000 Australian Rats of Tobruk along with four regiments of British artillery and small Polish and Indian components, held out Rommel on his purge through the top of Africa for seven months.
It wasn’t until elements of the Australian 7th and 9th Divisions were withdrawn to be brought back to Australia to tackle the Japanese on the Kakoda Trail, that Tobruk finally fell to Rommel.
Ironically, Fred Brogden’s dad, was an NCO in the British Army, the Royal Engineers.
Fred tells us that Teddy Brogden joined the British Army at the age of 15. He served in India for 12 years and was then meant to return home to England,
“Three days from home war was declared and Teddy's ship was sent to Tobruk; at this time he was a non commissioned officer in the Kings Regiment, Royal Engineers.
“He was there right through and after the Siege of Tobruk. He was in the thick of it, laying mines etc.
“Dad lost a leg at Tobruk, he was left for dead by a German soldier but was found.
“Dad was repatriated to a military hospital and took nearly a year to recover.”
Ted explained that even without a leg, Teddy Brogden stayed in the British Army and later ended up in the Territorials and became Inspector of Prisons at Derna.
Late in 1947 he emigrated straight to Melbourne, Victoria.
Fred Brogden continued: “Dad avoided talking about the war, like many others but he did tell me about the relentless bombing by the Stuka Dive Bombers, of the Harbour, and the supply ships trying to replenish our troops.
Fred’s family history and his strong memories of his father, has inspired him to write a poem, especially for Anzac Day.
It is called very appropriately: “If Jesus was an Aussie”
“As a Christian, besides being a minister of more than 20 years, I have a very strong and active faith in God.
“You have no doubt heard the old saying ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’.
“And many Diggers have told me that they have recited The Lord’s Prayer when they were under fire, but they would often qualify that with, ‘and I'm not religious’.
“I believe that Jesus in Spirit, has been a "Foxhole Buddy " to plenty of Aussies when the chips were down.
“That's how I see Jesus, as a loving, caring and compassionate man who led the way by laying down His life for us, the ultimate sacrifice.
“And that’s what many Diggers did for us to; they laid down their lives for us and they have inspired me to write the words to If Jesus was an Aussie.”