On the morning of 3 January 1941, Australians of the 6th Division led an assault against the Italian colonial fortress village of Bardia in Libya, not far from the Egyptian-Libyan frontier. The ensuing battle was the second of the First Libyan Campaign, but the first battle of the Second World War planned and fought predominantly by Australians. The fortress fell to the attackers a little over two days after the attack began, in what could only be described as a remarkable victory. At a cost of 130 killed and 326 wounded, the 6th Division captured around 40,000 Italian prisoners and very large quantities of military stores and equipment. The victory was heralded at the time in Australia as one of the greatest military achievements of that nation's military history. Quite soon afterwards, however, overshadowed perhaps by Rommel's subsequent desert advances, the tragedy in Greece, and the war in the Pacific, Bardia slipped from the public mind. Very few Australians today have heard of the battle. This book attempts to bring Bardia back into the light.
Craig Stockings is a Professor of History at the University of New South Wales. In 2016 Professor Stockings accepted an appointment from the Prime Minister as the Official Historian of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East TImor. His areas of academic interest concern general and Australian military history and he has published extensively in the field. Most notably such works include a history of the army cadet movement in Australia entitled: The Torch and the Sword, a study of the First Libyan Campaign in North Africa 1940-41: Bardia: Myth, Reality and the Heirs of Anzac, a re-interpretation of the German invasion of Greece in 1941 entitled: Swastika over the Acropolis (with Associate Professor Eleanor Hancock), and most recently: Britannia’s Shield: Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Hutton and Late Victorian Imperial Defence. He has also edited a number of books including Zombie Myths of Australian Military History, Anzac’s Dirty Dozen: 12 Myths of Australian Military History, Before the Anzac Dawn (with Dr John Connor), and a work entitled: The Shadow Men: the leaders who shaped the Australian Army from the Veldt to Vietnam.