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Tripoli Under Siege

These photographs were taken by a British photo reconnaissance aircraft flying from Malta on 22 November 1942. They show the Libyan capital in Axis hands, one month before its capture by the British 8th Army, which was at this time advancing rapidly westwards along the coast road from Benghazi. After covering 600 miles in 14 days, British troops under the command of Lieutenant-General Montgomery paused to regroup before fighting their way into Tripoli on 23 January 1943.

 

Tripoli Harbour

As the main supply port for German and Italian forces in North Africa, Tripoli was a regular target for British reconnaissance aircraft during the Second World War. Once the aircraft had returned to their bases in Malta and Egypt, British photographic interpreters were able to calculate the amount and type of supplies arriving from Italy and could monitor any build-up or deficiency which might influence enemy intentions. In this image, numerous merchant ships can be seen in the port, bringing supplies and equipment to the beleaguered German Afrika Korps and their Italian allies. Several escort ships and reconnaissance seaplanes are also visible moored within the harbour.

 

Old City

Tightly-packed within a defensive wall, the Old City of Tripoli is visible in this aerial image as a dense and claustrophobic grid of covered alleyways, market squares and mosques.

 

Colonial City

This aerial image provides a fascinating illustration of the contrasting architectural styles of the city; from the tightly-packed and covered alleyways of the walled Old City, to the carefully-planned colonial streets, royal palace and gardens to the south.