Sunday, September 14, 2008

[Image] Stuka attack on the 2/24th.

30th April, 1941. Tobruk, Libya.

Stuka's bomb the 2/24th in the Red Line.

This amazing photo was taken from within a Carrier of the 2/48th Infantry Battalion as they approached the Red Line to offer assistance to the entrenched 2/24th. This attack was the second major thrust made by Rommel during the Siege and was heavily supported by artillery, tanks and infantry. The ever present Luftwaffe added the icing to the cake presented to the Diggers by their relentless dive bombing of the Red Line positions.

The Luftwaffe's aerial bombing was an attempt to demoralise the Australians and more importantly keep them underground in their Red Line posts whilst tanks and supporting infantry moved up to favourable positions in front of the anti-tank ditch.

This battle signalled the beginning of a period of bloody fighting that developed into the Battle of the Salient. This was one of the most trying and costly actions of the entire defense of Tobruk, for both sides.

The Carrier in the above photo has a Boys Anti-Tank Gun mounted in the forward gun position, the barrel of which can be seen protruding from the front of the photo. Also other tracks can be seen in the desert surface in front of the Carrier's direction of travel. These are most likely tracks from other Australian Carriers as opposed to Axis Tank tracks. The Axis tanks were a this stage of the battle concentrated to the front of the Red Line and not further back where this photo was taken.

No men were killed by the Stuka's bombs this day but on the day after this photo was taken 32 men from the 2/24th Infantry Battalion were killed in action in the Red Line.

image 128989 Australian War Memorial.

[Image] The Fig Tree R.A.P.

30th September, 1941. Tobruk, Libya.

A wounded man arrives at the 'Fig Tree'.

This wounded Digger from the 2/17th Infantry Battalion is being carried into the mouth of the cave under the 'Fig Tree' Regimental Aid Post. Located just inside the Red Line, north of the Derna Road, the Fig Tree was the only feature in an otherwise barren desert. It was visible from both Hill 209 in the Salient and Carrier Hill behind that. As a result it was an easy target for the German Artillery and would be heavily shelled for several hours per day.

During the shelling men would be stuck underground in the cramped dirty conditions until it was safe to leave. It was a place to stabilise wounded before transferring them to the Australian General Hospital near the Harbour. It patched up the walking wounded and sent them back to the lines.

To this day the Fig Tree still stands in Tobruk.

The Entry from the inside.

Waiting in the cave for the shelling to stop.

images 021023, 021021 and 021026 Australian War Memorial.