Vintage Tuesday: Bren Gun at Tobruk

I was up late working, and suffering from writer’s block. So today we have a special edition of Vintage Saturday, on a Tuesday. Whatever problems you may be facing today, they aren’t anywhere near as serious as this bloke’s. He’s taking fire (note the bullet impact behind the front sight, and his A-gunner is loading mags by hand, with only one full spare left.

Australian Bren gunner under fire at Tobruk
Australian Bren gunner under fire at Tobruk, 1941


  1. Amazing photograph!

    And you’re right. My rainy Tuesday morning rather does pale in comparison to this…

    At least it isn’t a lead rain, what? 😉

  2. Also interesting to note is the captured Italian Beretta M1934 holster on the gunner’s belt. Pretty cool, I think.

  3. Bren mags were normally loaded by hand. The mag loaders were cumbersome and not a lot faster than hand loading, consequently they were not issued. It only takes about 30 seconds to hand load a Bren magazine.

  4. My grand parents had an Italian prisoner of war working for them, and living with them.

    He had been captured by the Aussies at Tobruk;

    at bayonet point! (poor little guy wasn’t a willing fighter anyway, and he willingly complied with the big Aussie pointing a bayonet at him – even if later prisoners did accuse him of being a collaborator)

    Perhaps there was a wider shortage of ammo in that battle?

  5. Outer defensive positions at Tobruk were nigh on impossible (re suicidal) to resupply in the day. With limited water and ammo resupplied at night. Captured Italian and German weapons were regularly pressed into service in roles where supply shortfalls existed (mainly light machine guns but also arty and tanks)

    This I know from my grandfather who served with the 2/23 Battalion throughout North Africa, including the Siege of Tobruk. He was extremely proud of his status as a “Rat of Tobruk” and wasn’t shy about drilling the less traumatic details of his service into my head from a young age.

    BTW, are we sure that’s a bullet hit and not the dust that covered everything getting blown out by the gas system??? I

  6. The Australians in Tobruk found that they could suppress the PAA/Afrika Korps MG34s quite well with the Bren Gun, despite its lower maximmum ROFire. Why?

    A much narrower beaten-zone. Accuracy in a section LMG is a very good thing. IME & opinion. Ex senior NCO of Australian Infantry.

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