April 11

Siege of Tobruk: The 70th Anniversary


The siege of Tobruk during the Second World War began on 11 April 1941, when the town was attacked by an Italian-German force under the charismatic Lieutenant General Rommel.

The seige was to continue for 240 days until it was relieved by the Allied Eighth Army.

The 70th anniversary is being commemorated  in Australia, and the survivors – the "Rats of Tobruk" honoured by a grateful nation.

The term was used pejoratively by the German propoganda agency, but it was adopted as a badge of honour by the soldiers.

…Australian 9th Division…

For much of the siege, Tobruk was defended by the Australian 9th Division under Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead.

General Wavell, the Commander-in-Chief of British Middle Eastern Command had instructed General Morshead to hold the fortress for eight weeks.

In fact the 9th Australian Division held it for over five months before most were withdrawn during September at the request of the Fadden and Curtin Australian Governments who wished to see Australians fighting under a unified command.

The 9th Division was replaced by the British 70th Infantry Division, with the  Polish Carpathian Brigade and Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion (East). The held d Tobruk until the arrival of the Eighth Army.

…Royal Australian Navy with Royal Navy, Cairo and beyond……

The  Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy warships maintained supply lines to the defenders.

Keeping Tobruk, a major port on the North African coast, was crucial. Had it fallen, German  Rommel, would have been free to move on Cairo, Alexandria and beyond.

It was the first time that the Blitzkrieg of the German Panzers had been brought to a halt.

Following Operation Crusader the siege of Tobruk was lifted in December, 1941. Axis forces captured the fortress in 1942 after defeating allied forces in the Battle of Gazala.

The following substantial video is from Military Journal TV.



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