Tobruk or Tubruq (Ancient Greek: Αντίπυργος) (/təˈbrʊk,
toʊ-/; Arabic: طبرق Ṭubruq; also transliterated as
Tóbruch, Tobruch, Tobruck and Tubruk) is a port city on Libya's
eastern Mediterranean coast, near the border of Egypt. It is the
capital of the
Butnan District (formerly
Tobruk 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.
Tobruk had become an Italian military post, but during World
War II, Allied forces, mainly the Australian 6th Division, took Tobruk
on 22 January 1941. The Australian 9th Division ("The Rats of Tobruk")
pulled back to
Tobruk to avoid encirclement after actions at Er Regima
Mechili and reached
Tobruk on 9 April 1941 where prolonged
fighting against German and Italian forces followed.
Although the siege was lifted by
Operation Crusader in November 1941,
a renewed offensive by Axis forces under
Erwin Rommel the following
year resulted in
Tobruk being captured in June 1942 and held by the
Axis forces until November 1942, when it was recaptured by the Allies.
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
King Idris of
Libya had his palace at Bab Zaytun.
traditionally a stronghold of the Senussi royal dynasty and one of the
first to rebel against Colonel Gaddafi in the Arab Spring.
3.2 Modern history
3.2.1 World War II
220.127.116.11 Strategic importance
18.104.22.168 Italian advance
22.214.171.124 British capture of Tobruk
126.96.36.199 German capture of Tobruk
188.8.131.52 British recapture
3.2.2 Libyan Civil Wars
4 Notable people
5 See also
7 External links
An aerial image of Tobruk's harbour.
Tobruk has a strong, naturally protected deep harbour. It is probably
the best natural port in northern Africa, although
due to the lack of important nearby land sites it is certainly not the
most popular. The city is effectively surrounded by a desert lightly
populated with nomadic herdsmen who travel from oasis to oasis.
There are many escarpments (cliffs) to the south of
Tobruk (and indeed
in all of Cyrenaica, the eastern half of Libya). These escarpments
generally have their high sides to the south and their low sides (dip
slopes) to the north. This constitutes a substantial physical barrier
between the north and south of
Libya in the
Tobruk was some 470 km (290 mi) from Benghazi
through the Libyan Coastal Highway, but this distance was shortened to
450 km (280 mi) after the construction of the
Charruba–Timimi Road between the years 1975 and 1985. Construction
of the Tobruk-
Ajdabiya road reduced the distance between those two
cities from 620 km (390 mi) to about 410 km
Because it is approximately 150 km (93 mi) away from Egypt
Tobruk is also an important hub for merchants from both Egypt
and Libya, and for travellers between the two countries as well as
those from Bayda and Derna.
Tobruk suffers a serious saltwater intrusion problem. A
factory for the desalination of sea water has been built there.
Tobruk features a hot desert climate (BWh according to the Köppen
Climate data for
Tobruk (Sunshine 1996-2015)
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst
Source #2: Weather Online
Marmarica and North
Africa during Antiquity
An Ancient Greek agricultural colony, Antipyrgus (Ancient Greek:
Αντίπυργος) was once on the site of modern Tobruk, and
the ancient name is still occasionally in use. The name roughly meant
"across from Pyrgos", referring to a location in
Crete across the
Mediterranean Sea from Antipyrgos. In the Roman era, the town became a
Roman fortress guarding the Cyrenaican frontier.
With the spread of Christianity, Antipyrgus became an episcopal see.
Only one of its ancient bishops is known by name: Aemilianus, who took
part in the
Second Council of Constantinople
Second Council of Constantinople in 553. No longer a
residential bishopric, Antipyrgus is today listed by the Catholic
Church as a titular see.
Later the site became a way station on the caravan route that ran
along the coast.
Hotel Tobruk was built in 1937.
World War II
Western Desert Campaign
Western Desert Campaign and Siege of Tobruk
At the beginning of World War II,
Libya was an Italian colony and
Tobruk became the site of important battles between the Allies and
Tobruk was strategically important to the conquest of
Eastern Libya, then the province of Cyrenaica, for several reasons.
Gazala in May 1942, which was fought in the vicinity of
Tobruk had a deep, natural, and protected harbour, which meant that
even if the port were bombed, ships would still be able to anchor
there and be safe from squalls, so the port could never be rendered
wholly useless regardless of military bombardment. This was of
critical importance, as it made
Tobruk an excellent place to supply a
desert warfare campaign. It was also heavily fortified by the Italians
prior to their invasion of
Egypt in November 1940.
In addition to these prepared fortifications, there were a number of
escarpments and cliffs to the south of Tobruk, providing substantial
physical barriers to any advance on the port over land.
also on a peninsula, allowing it to be defended by a minimal number of
troops, which the Allies used to their advantage when the port was
under siege. An attacker could not simply bypass the defenders, for if
they did, the besieged would sally forth and cut off the nearby supply
lines of the attacker, spoiling their advance.
Tobruk was also strategically significant, due to its location
with regard to the remainder of Cyrenaica. Attackers from the east who
Tobruk could then advance through the desert to Benghazi,
cutting off all enemy troops along the coast, such as those at Derna.
This advance would be protected from counterattack, due to escarpments
that were quite difficult for a military force to climb, running
Tobruk to Suluq. Due to the importance of maintaining
supply in the desert, getting cut off in this area was disastrous.
Therefore, whoever held both
Tobruk controlled the majority
Finally, 24 km (15 mi) south of the port was the largest
airfield in eastern Libya. This was significant due to the importance
of air power in desert warfare.
Italian forces (and their native Libyan allies — about two divisions
of the latter) invaded
Egypt in early September 1940 but halted their
advance after a week and dug in at Sidi Barrani. In early December,
British Empire forces — an armoured division and two infantry
divisions — launched a counterstrike codenamed Operation Compass.
The Italians had previously invaded Albania and occupied part of the
south of France, and had now made a military incursion into a British
British capture of Tobruk
The counterstrike involved the British pocketing two of the Italian
camps against the Mediterranean, forcing their surrender. This led to
a general Italian retreat to El Agheila.
Tobruk was captured by
British, Australian and Indian forces on 22 January 1941.
Italy called on her German ally, which sent an army corps, under the
Deutsches Afrika Korps
Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK). Italy also sent several more
divisions to Libya. These forces, under
Rommel, drove the Allies back across
Cyrenaica to the Egyptian border,
Tobruk isolated and under siege. The defenders of the fortress
consisted of the Australian 9th Division, the Australian 18th Brigade
and some British tanks and artillery. They were later reinforced and
replaced by the British 70th Infantry Division, Polish Independent
Carpathian Rifle Brigade, a Czechoslovak battalion and a British tank
brigade. The siege lasted until December, when Operation Crusader
pushed the DAK and Italians back out of Cyrenaica.
German capture of Tobruk
Battle of Gazala
Rommel's second offensive took place in May and June 1942.
taken in an outflanking attack on 21 June 1942, capturing the largest
British Commonwealth troops after the fall of Singapore
earlier in the year, where over 80,000 were captured. Rommel was
promoted to Generalfeldmarschall, shortly thereafter and was the
youngest in the
Wehrmacht Heer to achieve this rank. The following
units were deployed in
Tobruk on 20 June 1942, and most of them were
captured by the Axis forces:
2nd South African Infantry Division
4th Royal Tank Regiment
7th Royal Tank Regiment
3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards
1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters
1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
2nd Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
2nd Battalion, 5th Mahratta Light Infantry
2nd Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles
67 Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
68 Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
25th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
Tobruk remained in Axis hands until 11 November 1942, when the Allies
captured it after the Second
Battle of El Alamein. It remained in
Allied hands thereafter. Although not as much a reason for its
strategic significance, the British built a rail line from El Alamein
Tobruk during the course of the war. This rail line was significant
both for purposes of supply and as a sense of pride to the Allied
troops, as the rail line was built through a little-populated,
Libyan Civil Wars
At the outset of the 2011 Libyan Civil War, the city quickly came
under the control of the NTC. In September 2014 the
internationally recognized government of
Libya relocated to a
Greek car ferry in
Tobruk harbor. A rival New General National
Congress parliament continued to operate in Tripoli. In
October 2014 they again re-located, to a hotel named Dar
al-Salam also known as the Al Masira Hotel in Tobruk. In
November 2014 that government was declared illegal by Libya's highest
Professor Omar El Barasi (b. 1951), who once managed the Libyan branch
of Society of Petroleum Engineers, and later became a deputy of Libya
PM Abdurrahim El-Keib is from
Tobruk and gained his doctorate in
petroleum engineering from Waseda University, Japan.
Abulgassem Tayeb Sharef ( b.1943), who had managed several oil
companies and was once the "youngest" General Manager of the
international Marketing of oil products in Elbrega Company. (Brussels
University "technical chemistry")
Eman al-Obeidi, a Libyan woman who was abused by the Gaddafi
government during the Libyan Civil War, is from Tobruk.
List of cities in Libya
Railway stations in Libya
Knightsbridge War Cemetery WW2
British Commonwealth Cemetery
On 1 January 1934, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan were united as
the Italian colony of Libya. However, during
World War II
World War II these names
continued to be used.
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^ Der Spiegel, 2011 Aug 23
^ Jones, Daniel (2003) , Peter Roach, James Hartmann and Jane
Setter, eds., English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, ISBN 3-12-539683-2 CS1 maint: Uses editors
^ a b c d e "Tobruk" (history), Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006,
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, Concise.Britannica.com BC-Tobruk
Archived 2008-01-02 at the Wayback Machine..
^ "Klimatafel von
Tobruk / Libyen" (PDF). Baseline climate means
(1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher
Wetterdienst. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus
digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 633-634
^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 834
^ Agar-Hamilton, J. A. I. & Turner, L. F. C. (1952). Crisis in the
Desert: May - July 1942. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.
^ "Gaddafi defiant as state teeters". Al Jazeera. 23 February
^ "Greek oil tanker bombed in Libyan port of Derna". BBC News.
Retrieved 26 December 2015.
^ Chris Stephen. "Libyan parliament takes refuge in Greek car ferry".
The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
^ "Libya's Islamist militias claim control of capital". Associated
Press. The Washington Post. 24 August 2014. Archived from the original
on August 25, 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
^ Chris Stephen (9 September 2014). "Libyan parliament takes refuge in
Greek car ferry". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
^ Ulf Laessing (2 October 2014). "Insight - Libya's runaway parliament
seeks refuge in
Tobruk bubble". Reuters UK. Retrieved 26 December
^ "Libya's government holed up in a 1970s hotel". BBC News. Retrieved
26 December 2015.
^ "Al Masira Hotel". tripadvisor.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December
^ "Libyan court rules elected parliament illegal". aljazeera.com.
Retrieved 26 December 2015.
^ Libyan Transitional Government-Bureau Of Prime minister (defunct)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tobruk.
Tobruk: Australian toughness beats Rommel
Tobruk War cemetery - video
Butnan District, Libya
Towns and villages
Bi'r al Ashhab
Gasr el Jadi
Administrative seats of the districts of Libya
Largest cities or towns in Libya
Jabal al Akhdar
Gulf of Sidra
Tobruk (El Hariga)
BNF: cb15035535q (data)