Under air attack in Tobruk

An anti -aircraft gun at Tobruk, surrounded by old ammunition boxes filled with stone.

As British forces fell back from the newly launched German attack in Libya, the port of Tobruk came under sustained air attack. It was not yet completely surrounded but all non essential personnel were being evacuated and defensive positions were being established. Kenneth Rankin was with a Heavy Anti Aircraft battery:

9th April 1941 – Heavy Fire

A raid started just before dawn, and all kinds of guns went into action. Then a reconnaissance plane came over at 14,000 feet and the H.A.A. blazed off furiously. The harbour was full of shipping. Six planes travelled along the coastline, which I identified as Dorniers and so reported to Gun Operations Room, who replied that they were Hurricanes! By this time we were shooting at them, and then G.O.R. ordered us to carry on.

Immediately afterwards three Messerschmitts came up, and again we went into action; one of them was shot down. Hurricanes went into action and were buzzing about over our heads. Our sergeants were nearly all deaf, and poor Sergeant Davies had his ear-drum bleeding. Sergeant West had tooth-ache.

Each gun got so much dust around that nothing could be seen outside the gun pits, and very little could be heard. We had difficulty in stopping them shooting – they went on like maniacs. Most of us ducked in the Command Post when they crashed away at low elevation just over our heads. Sergeant Bennet got too much in front of his gun,-and got his hair singed at the back.

See Kenneth Rankin: Top Hats in Tobruk

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