This image, dated the 14th of March, 1942, shows a train of soldiers of the 7th Division being welcomed home by women and children in the suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia. They had just disembarked from His Majesty’s Transport Orcades and were returning from fighting in the Middle East.
Early in the twentieth century Italy took control of the North African nation of Libya. The country became known as Italian Libya after their victory in the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12. However the Italians, aligned with Nazi Germany, began to lose ground in Africa as they were pushed back by the Allied troops in the early 1940s.
Many Muslim Libyans chose to fight with Italy during the Second World War, but by February of 1943 the Axis powers were forced out of the country, ending decades of Italian control.
The photograph above is dated the 10th of March, and was taken by the Australian armed forces as they advanced on Axis territory. It shows wrecked Italian aircraft at the destroyed Castel Benito airport in the capital city, Tripoli.
The Japanese had occupied the country for nearly three years. Two weeks before this image was taken, the Battle of Manila began, a fight for liberation that killed over 100 000 civilians and razed the city to the ground.
A combined force of American and Filipino troops finally defeated Japan at the beginning of March.
The harbour town in Libya became the focus of a 241-day siege a few months later. 14 000 Australians – known as the Rats of Tobruk – fought a combined force of Nazis and Italians. Control of the town was crucial to Allied interests in North Africa.