Benghazi

Benghazi, on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Sirte in Libya, is the largest city and administrative centre of the Libyan region of Cyrenaica. In 1941 it fulfilled the same role for the Italian government there and was thus a key objective for the British Commonwealth advance into Cyrenaica from Egypt in January and February. By the time Australian forces were closing on Benghazi from both the north and east on the afternoon of 6 February, the retreating Italian forces, already largely defeated as a result of the battles at Bardia, Tobruk, and Derna, had abandoned it. B Company of the 2/4th Battalion were the first Commonwealth troops to enter Benghazi on the morning of 7 February. Benghazi's port facilities became an important asset in the see-sawing war in the western desert and it changed hands on another four occasions before the final defeat of the Axis forces in Libya at the end of 1942. Today Benghazi is the site of a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery containing 55 Australian graves.