Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tobruk falls

In the night of 20 June to 21 June 1942, there were discussions about either holding out, surrendering, or trying to break out from Tobruk. General Klopper sent General Ritchie a message that the mobile troops would attempt to break out before morning. Apparently, no breakout was attempted and a surrender was arranged in the morning. A few units held out for longer, such as the Gurkha Rifles and the Cameron Highlanders. Some troops did succeed in escaping, however. 199 officers and men from the Coldstream Guards and 188 other men broke out to the southwest and were escorted by South African armoured cars. A very few others escaped to arrive on the frontier, in one case, much later. The loss of Tobruk devastated Churchill. He was in Washington at the time of the surrender and took the news very hard. The loss resulted in a no-confidence motion in Parliament on 25 June. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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