Melbourne veteran to deliver Anzac address

Bob Semple will deliver an address at the Anzac Day National Ceremony in Canberra next week.
Bob Semple will deliver an address at the Anzac Day National Ceremony in Canberra next week.

A 97-year-old Melbourne man will deliver an address at the Anzac Day National Ceremony in Canberra next week.

Essendon man Bob Semple, also known as "Rat of Tobruk", spent time in the Middle East and North Africa in World War II.

Mr Semple's uncle was killed on April 25, 1915, when the Anzacs landed at Gallipoli.

Ten of his friends are buried side-by-side in the desert after being hit by one shell during the Siege of Tobruk in Libya.

The names of his gun crew are carved into the back of the violin he took to war.

"All of those things you've got to learn to live with, I suppose. It's a soldier's life. Never ever forget," he says.

"There are more Victoria Crosses and other high awards buried under the sand of the desert of North Africa and in the mud of the Islands than there are that ever walked about on top of the earth. [They have] nothing against their names, but we know who they were."

Mr Semple, who considers himself fortunate to have returned home and married the love of his life, still has the violin he took away to war, along with the felt hat and greatcoat that he was given when he enlisted.

They still fit, and the old violin case, marked with his initials and regimental number, still has sand in it from his time in the Middle East and North Africa.

Australian Associated Press