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Siege of Tobruk


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(1941–42)

German siege of British and Commonwealth troops in Tobruk in North Africa in World War II. When General Wavell's army captured Tobruk in January 1941 some 25,000 Italian troops were taken prisoner. The Afrika Korps of General Rommel then arrived (April 1941) and the British withdrew east, leaving a largely Australian garrison to defend Tobruk, which was subjected to an eight‐month siege and bombardment. In November 1941, after being reinforced by sea, the garrison broke out, capturing Rezegh and linking up with the 8th Army troops of General Auchinleck. But the Germans counter‐attacked and in June 1942, after heavy defeats, the British again withdrew leaving a garrison of two divisions, mostly South African and Australian, in Tobruk, which was then subjected to massed attack by German and Italian troops. On 20 June it capitulated, the garrison of 23,000 men surrendering, with vast quantities of stores. It was a major Allied defeat, but Tobruk was recaptured on 13 November 1942 by the troops of General Montgomery.

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