Who wrote Tobruk hero’s story of war left on a train?

A MANUSCRIPT left behind on a Caboolture-line train has revealed the astonishing war history of one of Queensland's Rats of Tobruk.

The diary transcript was found on the train in June and handed in to Queensland Rail's lost property department.

After efforts to find its owner proved fruitless, the document ended up on the desk of QR historian Greg Hallam.

"The story that jumped out was amazing. It's very much one of your iconic Digger stories," Mr Hallam said.

Private Les Perkins was born in Toowoomba in 1905, and was 35 when he enlisted in Kyogle in northern NSW in 1940.

He became stretcher-bearer with the 2/13 Battalion, known as "The Devil's Own" - the only Australian unit to see out the entire 241-day siege of Tobruk in 1941.

"The way he wrote was like your grandfather talking; that wonderful larrikinism came through," Mr Hallam said.

"There are sad accounts of fellas getting wounded or killed, but also... enjoying oneself on Christmas Day, getting 'full', playing two-up and everything like that."

Private Perkins also wrote about the build-up to the battle of El-Alamein, one of the crucial turning points of the Second World War.

"You can see in the way he writes ... something big's going to happen, he's talking about the night before, the preparations."

The diary ends as the battle begins, but Mr Hallam said whoever transcribed the document was careful to note that Private Perkins received a military medal for his heroic actions in the opening stages.

"He rescued a wounded German soldier from a burning Panzer tank," Mr Hallam said.

"He was wounded and returned to Australia, and received his military medal in July of 1945."

Mr Hallam said their research had found Private Perkins married a year later, and died in Kyogle in 1991. His wife died in 2002.

Contact Queensland Rail on 13 16 17 or email lostproperty@qr.com.au if you have any information.


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