Tobruk is a port city on Libya's eastern Mediterranean coast, near the border with Egypt. It is the capital of the Butnan District and has a population of 120,000 (2011 est.).

Tobruk was the site of an Ancient Greek colony, and later of a Roman fortress guarding the frontier of Cyrenaica. Over the centuries, Tobruk also served as a waystation along the coastal caravan route. By 1911, Tobruk had become an Italian military post until World War II, when the Australian 6th Division took Tobruk in January 1941.

The port was besieged twice during the North African campaign; the first siege in 1941 lasted from April to November and saw the primarily Australian garrison successfully repel Erwin Rommel's attempts to capture the port. The second siege began and ended swiftly in June 1942; in terms of prisoners taken it was Britain's second-worst defeat of the war (after Singapore). Rebuilt after World War II, Tobruk was later expanded during the 1960s to include a port terminal linked by an oil pipeline to the Sarir oil field.

Tobruk in The War That Came EarlyEdit

By the autumn of 1941, Tobruk was the site of the largest Italian military base in eastern Libya.[1] After Italy failed to take Egypt from Britain, British forces counterattacked into Libya, intending to take Tobruk as the first step toward expelling the Italians from Libya.[2] However, the British generals moved too slowly in organizing their assault on the port, and the intervention of the German Luftwaffe two days before the planned attack heralded the beginning of a British retreat back into Egypt.[3]


  1. Coup d'Etat, pg. 338.
  2. Ibid., pg. 340.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 340-341.

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