The Rats of Tobruk

From 10 April to 30 April 1941, Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead’s 9th Australian Division defeated every attempt by Rommel’s Afrika Korps to seize the vital city and port of Tobruk on Libya’s northeast coast. On 1 May, Rommel invested the city with five Italian divisions and continued on to Egypt before the British could regroup. The British Navy provided enough supplies for the the garrison to hold out indefinitely, despite much hard fighting when the Italians made a deliberate assault. The Australians’ aggressive nighttime patrolling and numerous spoiling attacks kept the Italian’s attacks to a minimum. Furthermore, they launched raids on Afrika Korps supply lines from the city which caused great frustration to Rommel’s precarious logistics situation. Morshead held out until the end of August when his Australians were replaced by Poles, Czechs, and Brits brought in by the British Navy.

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