The Bastion of Fascism

Port of Bardia

28th April 2017

Bardia 080These rarely seen images are copies of British War Office photographs and part of a group of ten photographs recently digitised by The Tank Museum Archive.

The photographs were taken during and after the attack on Bardia, Libya, in January 1941, a fortified seaport with an 18 mile defended perimeter, referred to as “the bastion of fascism” by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. 

Right: Bardia, Libya. January, 1941. A group of tired and cold Italian POWs use a British Light Tank Mark VIB, to rest before their transportation to a life of captivity. 

As part of Operation Compass, the first British offensive, a force of 16,000 British and Australian troops (it would be 6th Australian Division’s first engagement) with aerial support and naval and artillery barrage, seized the port of Bardia. The port was garrisoned by 45,000 Italian troops between 3rd and 5th January 1941, 40,000 of which would be taken prisoner.

Bardia 010The ebb and flow off the Desert Campaign would see Bardia attacked and captured again the following year. 

Left: A L3/35 Light Tank lies abandoned, beside captured Italian defences outside Bardia. 13 Italian Medium and 117 Light Tanks were captured during the battle. The markings of this Carden Loyd derivative indicate that it is the 3rd tank, 2nd Platoon but unfortunately it is not possible to determine the specific company or regiment.