The Battle of Tobruk started on the 10 Apr 1941 and 241 days later on the 27 Nov 1941, it ended. The battle started after Axis forces advanced through Cyrenaica from El Agheila in Operation Sonnenblume against Allied forces in Libya, during the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) of the Second World War
'The Siege of Tobruk’ begins with German troops cutting landward communications with Tobruk, and between April and August 1941 around 14,000 Australian soldiers were besieged in Tobruk by a German–Italian army. The garrison consisted of the 9th Division, the 18th Brigade of the 7th Division, along with British artillery and some Indian troops.
It was vital for the Allies' defence of Egypt and the Suez Canal to hold the town with its harbour, as this forced the enemy to bring most of their supplies overland from the port of Tripoli, across 1500 km of desert, as well as diverting troops from their advance.
The Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy provided the garrison's link to the outside world, the so-called 'Tobruk ferry'. These ships included the Australian destroyers Napier, Nizam, Stuart, Vendetta and Voyager. Losses comprised two destroyers, including HMAS Waterhen, three sloops, including HMAS Parramatta, and 21 smaller vessels.
Australian casualties from the 9th Division from 8th April to 25th October numbered 749 killed, 1,996 wounded and 604 prisoners. The total losses in the 9th Division and attached troops from 1st March to 15th December amounded to 832 killed, 2,177 wounded and 941 prisoners.
British forces lifted the siege on 10 December 1941 during Operation 'Crusader', when 1st Army Tank Brigade linked up with a 'break out' force from Tobruk - the 32nd Army Tank Brigade - at Ed Duda, to the south-east of the town.