Wednesday, July 30, 2008

[Image] 9th Division troops move From Blue to Red Line at Tobruk

Tobruk, Libya, 8th August, 1941.

9th Division troops move to relieve others in the Red Line.

This image shows unidentified troops of the Australian 9th Division moving on foot from the inner perimeter "Blue Line" to relieve others in positions in the front "Red Line" at Tobruk.

Troops coming off the front lines, where they had often been in close contact with the enemy for weeks, would fall back to take up positions in the inner defensive perimeter known as the "Blue Line". When Tobruk was originally taken from the Italians in January, 1941 by the men of the Australian 6th Division the English command wanted to set up the outer defenses in the area known as the Blue Line. Australian command argued that the outer Red Line should be the one to hold as to do so would place enemy artillery out of range of the vital supply point, Tobruk Harbour. That one decision alone could may well have changed the entire course of the war.

Had defenses been set up at the originally planned Blue Line, Rommel's artillery would have likely captured the city within days. With a deep water harbour secured Rommel could move forward with his plans to rapidly take Egypt and with it, a gateway to the rich Middle Eastern oil fields of Iraq. With unlimited supply of oil relatively close to the planned Eastern Front with Russia the whole shape of the war starts to look different.

What strikes me about this image of the Libyan desert is that fact that the landscape, if viewed through a red filter, reminds me of footage I've seen of the surface of Mars. Weird I know but those rock formations are like nothing I've seen on this planet.

image 041777 Australian War Memorial.

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