World War Two - Tobruk (Tobruq)
Tobruk, also known as Tubruq, Tobruch, Tubruk, or طبرق , is located about 250 miles east of Benghazi city in the region of Barka (Barqa) or Cyrenaica. The city is beautifully situated along its U-shaped harbour, between the encroaching sands of the Sahara from the south and lively Mediterranean waves from the north. Tobruk was also the stage on which one of the most sieges of the 20th century was orchestrated. Just under 25,000 allied troops, including around 14,270 Australian soldiers, were surrounded by Italian and German soldiers in the longest siege in Allied military history. The Australian-dominated allied force held out for 240 days, during which 650 soldiers died and about 917 were captured. The siege came to an end around November 1941, when General Claude Auchinleck lifted the siege.
Libya was the stage on which a number of crucial World War Two battles were exercised, the most famous of which is the Battle of Tobruk. The strategic importance of the area was contested by European forces. According to official figures about 27 WWII battles took place in Libya, causing great mayhem and destruction.
The wars began as early as October 1935 when Italy invaded Ethiopia; leading Egypt to grant Britain the permission to bring in large forces into the country. When Germany invaded France in June 1940, Benito Mussolini joined in and declared war on Britain and France, and then managed to invade Egypt in September 1940. On September 13, 1940, Italy's Graziani moved into Egypt. Fearing a German invasion, the British were in no immediate rush to counter the Italian move. But after additional 126,000 Commonwealth troops arrived in Egypt from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and India, the Western Desert Force attacked the Italians at Sidi Barrani; eventually leading the British to push the Italian Tenth Army out of Egypt, and to finally score a major victory at Bardia, and subsequently took Tobruk. By February 1941, the Italian Tenth Army surrendered and Libyan Cyrenaica fell to the British
Relics of Rommel's army's military machinery and cemeteries of European soldiers continue to receive visitors from England, Germany, France, Italy and Australia. There are a number of World War Cemeteries in Tobruk, including The Commonwealth Cemetery, The English Cemetery, the French Cemetery and the German Cemetery.
In March, the Axis forces, under the command
of the German general Erwin Rommel, attacked Cyrenaica and cut
off the British troops at Tobruk; only to be regained by the British
Eighth Army commander general Claude Auchinleck in November. As
is the nature of conflict, Rommel took Cyrenaica again, and continued
to Egypt, only to be halted at al Alamein, 100 kilometres from
Alexandria. In October the Eighth Army, this time under the command
of general Bernard Montgomery, broke through the Axis lines at
al Alamein, and the capture of Cyrenaica was completed for the
second time, again in November. By mid-February,
the last Axis troops were driven out of Libya. However, the
Germans returned and took Tobruk on June the 2nd 1942, and Rommel
was promoted to Field Marshall by Hitler. General Montgomery fought
back and recaptured Tobruk on November 13, 1942.
The World War Two cemeteries you can visit in Tobruk include the Allied Cemetery, the French Cemetery, Knightsbridge Cemetery (near Acroma, 25 km west of Tobruk), and the German Cemetery ( located inside a castle, with the names of DAK soldiers died in the wars inscribed on its surrounding walls). The Commonwealth Cemetery is the home of many British, Australian, New Zealand, South African, Polish, Czech, Canadian, French and Greek graves. There are also some monuments, like the Australian obelisk, the Stone of Remembrance, and the Graves of the Polish SBSK (Samodzielna Brygada Strzelcow Karpackich) Brigade.
The remains of the war machinery on display in Tobruk include the Lady Be Good, the American plane which crash-landed in the Libyan desert, cannons, tanks, a system of concrete trenches left by the Italians, and not to count how many land mines left behind, some of which still are a source of worry to the local people of Tobruk and the surrounding areas.
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World War II Vintage Barbed Wire.
This vintage barbed wire structure is located about three miles away from Tobruk. The road leading to the structure is a bit rocky and requires a tough car or a desert vehicle. Barbed wires extend from Almajouri Castle (south of Jaghboub oasis) all the way to the Mediterranean coast, spanning nearly 300 kilometres. The structure was originally used by Graziani to stop supplies from reaching the Libyan Freedom Fighters from neighbouring countries. The barbed wires were patrolled by both soldiers and vehicles, as well as electric current.
Lady be good
For more information about the plane please visit the following dedicated website.
A screen shot of the website ladybegood dot com. The story of Lady Be Good.