Tobruk – the siege goes on

A British 25-pounder in action on the perimeter of Tobruk.

The attempt by Operation Battleaxe to break through to Tobruk had failed. Those remaining within the besieged fortress knew they faced a long hot summer in the Libyan desert. Stephen Dawson was one of them:

Tuesday 24th June 1941
Whilst out on a wadi-scramble with Stan Ling tonight, we found several German propaganda leaflets which had been dropped by plane. They bore an amusing resemblance – both in type and context – to the British leaflets dropped on Tobruch for the benefit of Iti [the Italians], last January. (How the tables are turned!)

The leaflets that we found tonight read:-

AUSSIES
After Crete disaster Anzac troops are now being ruthlessly sacrificed by England in Tobruch and Syria.
Turkey has concluded pact of friendship with Germany. England will shortly be driven out of the Mediterranean.
Offensive to relieve you totally smashed.
YOU CANNOT ESCAPE
Our dive bombers are waiting to sink your transports. Think of your future and your people at home. Come forward – show white flags and you will be out of danger!
SURRENDER!

Stephen Dawson’s diary has been reproduced as a blog, see Soul of a Poet. The site itself is quite hard to navigate but the diary, as befits a poet, provides some unusual perspectives on life in the British army in the desert.

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