Relieved at last!
These 9th Division veterans of Tobruk manage a smile as they arrive via "bomb alley" to the safety of Alexandria, Egypt. Many of these first men to arrive were wounded and were amongst the priority evacuees.
Evacuated at night by destroyers of the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy these ships would arrive on moonless nights and arrive, unload and take on passengers and cargo and then depart all within the space of half an hour. Once free of the harbour the next 60 miles of coastline was known as "bomb alley" as it was the last stretch of water before Egypt in range of Luftwaffe planes. Zigzagging at high speed to avoid bombers and to break up their wakes these ships were the lifeline of Tobruk Garrison. Everything coming into and going out of Tobruk during the siege travelled via this method.
Whilst the men in this photo have been individually numbered for identification purposes the notation with their names that accompanied it has long since been lost.
image 020470 Australian War Memorial.