"Heroes" Top 5 Page for this destination Libya Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel
Libya Things to Do: 206 reviews and 690 photos
The first half of the 20th century saw great deeds of heroism and fortitude played out in the defence of freedom in the deep wadis and desert wastes of eastern Libya, first by local warriors who took on the invading Italians and then the should-have-been-defeated Allies who turned rout into victory as they held out against the numerically far superior German army at Tobruk.
You need to be a fairly determined pilgrim to make it to the quiet places where the memorials to these heroes are to be found.
Omar al-Mukhtar, the leader of the Sanussi rebels who defied the Italians was finally captured and executed. There's nothing grand or imposing about his memorial - it's just a fading portait on a sign hanging from the rusting iron girders of a Bailey bridge deep in the base of the Wadi al-Kuf. You need to take a detour from the main road to drive through the valley - the majority of those who drive this way each day speed over it, across the modern bridge and on to their destination. Those who do come - and many Libyans do more than once in their lives - do so in a spirit of homage to the elderly man whose white beard and quiet face bely the fierce determination and fighting spirit that earned him the name "Lion of the Desert" and a place in history as Libya's most honoured hero.
Just 22 years after al-Mukhtar's death, the small but strategic town of Tobruk, almost on the Egyptian border, was the setting for some of WW2's fiercest fighting and the scene of a bitter siege that lasted 240 days. Having advanced relentlessly across North Africa, Rommel's Afrika Korps seemed invincible as they swept into the eastern seaport of Tobruk and they fully expected the Allied troops trapped there to crumble before their onslaught and constant air raids. Instead of surrendering, the Allies - Australian, British, Polish, Czech, Indian, Canadian, South African and New Zealanders, dug themselves into a line of trenches and tunnels encircling the town and, for the next eight months waged a war that brought the enemy to a state of complete exhaustion and the first major Axis defeat of the war.
The graves of the 12,000 servicemen who lost their lives in the battles here bring pilgrims to Tobruk these days and the words of Albert Schweitzer carved into the German memorial speak for them all - "The graves of dead soldiers are the greatest messengers of peace" - and those who come here usually visit all the cemeteries - Commonwealth, French and the German, no matter what their nationality.
Directions: Wadi al-Kuf is 20km to the east of Qasr Libya. If you're not on a tour, the only way to get there is by taxi from Al-Bayda.
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