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The Siege of Tobruk was a confrontation that lasted for 241 days between Axis and Allied forces in North Africa during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War.
It was vital for the Allies' defence of Egypt and the Suez Canal to hold the town with its harbour, as this forced the enemy to bring most of their supplies overland from the port of Tripoli, across 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) of desert, as well as diverting troops from their advance. For much of the siege, Tobruk was defended by the reinforced Australian 9th Division under Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead. The Tobruk Ferry Service, made up of Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy warships, played an important role in Tobruk's defence, providing gunfire support, supplies, fresh troops and ferrying out the wounded.
Tobruk marked the first time that the advance of the German Panzers had been brought to a halt.[8] Following Operation Crusader, the siege of Tobruk was lifted in December, 1941.
In early 1941, British forces were engaged in Operation Compass, an attempt to drive the Italians out of North Africa. By the end of the first week in February, Operation Compass had resulted in the Italian forces being driven from Cyrenaica and in the surrender of the Italian 10th Army. The experienced 6th Australian Division and the fully trained and equipped New Zealand Division were withdrawn from Egypt and the Western desert to go to Greece.
The Allied position in Cyrenaica was hampered by supply difficulties caused by air attacks on Benghazi. Meanwhile, the Germans had started to concentrate in Africa the two divisions of the Afrika Korps under Erwin Rommel (see Operation Sonnenblume) in an attempt to prevent total collapse of the Italian forces. As a result of these events, the routes both to Benghazi and to Mechili were uncovered and Rommel brought forward, along the coast road, elements of the 17th Pavia and 27th Brescia Divisions while pushing his mechanised and motorised units across country, south of the Jebel Akhdar—Green Mountains—toward Mechili after the retreating British tanks.
On 6 April, Lieutenant-General Philip Neame—by that time the military governor of Cyrenaica (Wilson had been sent to command W Force in Greece)—withdrew his headquarters to Tmimi, west of Tobruk.
Rommel's initial attack plan called for his tanks to sweep around Tobruk to the eastern side and attack from the Bardia road, so cutting the town off from Cairo. In the meantime, the Allies continued to work on their defences, laying barbed wire, mines and other obstacles. With his forces regrouped, Rommel reverted to his original plan, sending his tanks around Tobruk to the Bardia road. Besieging Tobruk on three sides (the harbour was in Allied hands) was the Afrika Korps, composed of the 5th Light Division and elements of 15th Panzer Division, and by three Italian infantry divisions and the Italian Ariete Armoured Division.
Just after noon on 11 April 1941, the German and Italian forces positioned themselves for a concentrated attack on the city.
In cases where Panzers and Italian tankettes did reach or pass the Australian lines, the defending infantry—ensconced in well-built strongpoints, including many installed by the original Italian garrison—simply concentrated on the German or Italian infantry, knowing that the tanks' guns could not be brought to bear on them and the Axis tanks would face anti-tank guns in the second line of defences. Soon after dark on 13 April, the 5th Light Division renewed its attack with an effort to secure a bridgehead over the tank ditch just west of El Adem. The aggressive Australian patrolling continued and on 16 April, the main body of the 1st Battalion 62nd Trento Regiment was encountered approaching from Acroma. One of our patrols successfully penetrated an enemy position outside the defences of Tobruk, capturing 7 Italian officers and 139 men.
Reports from PW indicate that a large-scale attack was to have been launched on the Tobruk defences on or about 16 April 1941. In the meantime, a British battalion was selected for the Bardia raid, with the object of harassing Rommel's line of communication and inflicting as much damage as possible.

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Review resume writing services, resume professionals, resume examples, resume objectives, resume tips, example resume formats, and helpful resume articles on this comprehensive site. The siege started on 11 February 1941, when Tobruk was attacked by an Italo–German force under Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, and continued for 240 days up to 27 November 1941, when it was relieved by the Allied 8th Army during Operation Crusader. General Archibald Wavell—Commander-in-Chief of British Middle East Command—instructed Morshead to hold the fortress for eight weeks, but the 9th Australian Division held it for over five months before being gradually withdrawn during September and replaced by the British 70th Infantry Division, the Polish Carpathian Brigade and Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion (East) under the overall command of Major-General Ronald Scobie. Other than Benghazi, Tobruk was home to the only other significant port on the North African coast between Tripoli and Alexandria. Axis forces captured the fortress in 1942 after defeating allied forces in the Battle of Gazala.
On 21 January 1941, the Australian 6th Division made an assault to capture the Italian-garrisoned port of Tobruk, which offered one of the few good harbours between Alexandria and Tripoli. The Italian commander, General Petassi Manella, was taken prisoner after 12 hours of battle, and 24 hours later the Australian troops had cleaned up the remaining resistance. With the Italians close to collapse, Winston Churchill commanded the British general staff to call a halt to the offensive in order to allow many of the most experienced units from Richard O'Connor's XIII Corps to be moved to Greece to fight in the Battle of Greece.
Meanwhile, the tanks of the 7th Armoured Division—after eight months of fighting—needed a complete overhaul, and the division was withdrawn to Cairo and ceased to be available as a fighting formation.[9] XIII Corps was wound down to become a static HQ and O'Connor became the commander of British troops in Egypt (in Cairo) while Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson became military governor of Cyrenaica before leaving to command the expeditionary force in Greece.
The 2nd Armoured Division fell back before the as-yet tentative Axis advance, with the intention of flanking an enemy advance along the coast to Benghazi while blocking any move toward Mechili. To exaggerate the size of their force and strike fear in the defenders, they were ordered to make more dust than normal. The Australians were outnumbered and outgunned with only two Bren guns, a few dozen rifles and a couple of Boys anti-tank rifles. On the most important of these attacks, on 1 May, a combined Italo-German infantry and armour force attacking had its armour driven back and the infantry stood and fought behind Australian lines for quite some time before they withdrew.
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The Nazi propaganda called the tenacious defenders "rats", a term that the Australian soldiers embraced as an ironic compliment.
The fresh defenders continued to hold Tobruk until they were able to link with the advancing 8th Army at the end of November during Operation Crusader.
Had the Allies lost it, the German and Italian supply lines would have been drastically shortened. The Australians lost 49 dead and 306 wounded, while capturing 27,000 Italian POWs, 208 guns and 28 tanks. However, on 3 April the division's commander—Major-General Gambier-Parry—received a report that a large enemy armoured force was advancing on Msus where the division's principal petrol and supply dump lay.
As the tanks approached a bridge crossing a wadi on the perimeter of Tobruk, the Australians blew it up. It would be the job of his three Australian infantry brigades to ensure these were not breached. The 5th Panzer Regiment of the 5th Light Division drew fire first to try to assess the defences, advancing against the front held by 20th Australian Infantry Brigade just west of the El Adem road.[19] Within an hour, five of the German tanks were destroyed and the others pulled back.

The Australian artillery opened fire and inflicted significant casualties, but the German soldiers kept advancing.
In the early hours of 14 April, a further attempt succeeded in securing a small bridgehead through which the 5th Panzer Regiment pushed through. The ITALIANS appear to have been somewhat in the dark as to their actual objectives and the method of co-ordination by means of GERMAN liaison offrs working with ITALIAN units has not been successful.
Prepared by an international leading specialist in marine technology and construction, the material covered in the in the various course modules explains the different shipyard processes and operations involved in a clear and straightforward manner. Rommel, furthermore, was in no position to attack across the Egyptian border towards Cairo and Alexandria while the Tobruk garrison threatened the lines of supply to his front-line units. Many serviceable trucks and a large quantity of supplies were also captured (as the Italian Army was getting ready to advance toward Egypt). The division's tank brigade—the British 3rd Armoured Brigade—moved to Msus and found that all the petrol had been destroyed to prevent capture by the enemy. When von Prittwitz urged his staff car driver to drive him through the wadi and toward the Australians, his men called for him to stop, but he replied that the enemy was getting away. The 26th would hold the western sector, the 20th would hold the south and the 24th would hold the east.
The intention was to divide into two columns: one to head toward Tobruk town and the other to turn west to roll up the defences. The combination of aggressive fire from the Australian soldiers plus devastating fire from the 51st Field Artillery Regiment swung the battle in the Australians' favour.
The Italians had constructed some impressive defences, including a perimeter of concrete pits. Henceforth, the brigade's activities were almost entirely dictated by their lack of fuel.[12] The tank brigade—by that time fielding only 12 Cruiser tanks, 20 light tanks and 20 captured Italian tanks as a result of losses and more importantly mechanical breakdown—was ordered to withdraw to Mechili to be joined by 3rd Indian Motor Brigade.
The 18th Australian Brigade remained in reserve.[21] Morshead also ordered all Italian signal cables to be re-laid. The Australians' defensive fire forced the Germans to retreat, carrying their dead and wounded with them. As the Axis armour closed in, four British tanks arrived, firing over the head of the infantry. The party had clearly intended to blow the sides of an anti-tank ditch, allowing easier passage for tanks to cross — but they were forced to retreat.
However, the advancing tanks — met by intense fire from the 1st Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery — veered away only to run into fire from dug-in British Crusader tanks. The author Evelyn Waugh, who took part in the raid, related in an article he wrote for Life Magazine in November 1941 that the Germans "sent a strong detachment of tanks and armoured cars to repel the imagined invasion". He wanted to know what was happening, and where, so he could adjust his forces accordingly.
Now under fire from the front and both flanks, the Panzer Regiment retired having lost 16 of its 38 tanks.
He also kept a reserve of runners in case the telephone lines were disrupted by the German attack. Meanwhile, the 8th Machine-Gun Battalion—supporting the German armour—had been fought to a standstill by the Australian infantry and were also forced to withdraw under heavy fire from artillery and aircraft. The battalion lost more than ? of its strength while the Tobruk garrison's losses amounted to 90 casualties.

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