Tobruk War Cemetery
Tobruk and its important deep-water harbour were first captured from the Italians (Libya was then an Italian colony) by General Sir Archibald Wavell in his successful advance in January 1941. Later, the Commonwealth forces in Tobruk were besieged by General Rommel, a siege which lasted from April to December 1941. Tobruk was relieved by General Sir Claude Auchinleck when he drove back the Afrika Korps to El Agheila -- but that was not the end of the story, as Rommel's advance to El Alamein in the spring and summer of 1942 enabled him to take Tobruk on 21st June. It was not retaken until the war passed that way again after the Battle of El Alamein.
Hanging from the wall of the gate house is the bell from HMS Liverpool, to symbolize the critical part played by the Navy in bringing in essential supplies and ammunition during the seige. Without that help, Tobruk would have fallen. Inside the entrance, on the central path, is a stone obelisk commemorating the Australian dead, replacing the original concrete memorial erected by Australian soldiers. The cemetery, begun during the siege, stands five miles inland from the town, on the road to Alexandria, Egypt.
Bodies from outlying sites were brought in after the war and the cemetery now contains 1,200 British burials, three Canadian, 560 Australian, 40 New Zealand, 160 South African, over 20 each East and West African, 130 Polish, 15 Czech and smaller numbers of French and Greek.
|The text on this page has been taken from Courage Remembered, by Kingsley Ward and Major Edwin Gibson.|