Frontier Wire (Libya)

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Map showing the "Frontier wire" near Fort Capuzzo

The Frontier Wire was a 271 km (168 mi) obstacle in Italian Libya, along the length of the border of British-held Egypt, running from El Ramleh, in the Gulf of Sollum between Bardia and Sollum) south to Jaghbub.[1]


It was built by Italian forces—under the command of General Rodolfo Graziani—in the winter of 1931–1932 due to the Italian's struggle with Omar Mukhtar's Senussi resistors.[2][1] The wire was to hinder the resistance movement of men and materials with Egypt, as they were supplied by British forces in that region.[1]

The obstacle itself was four lines of 1.7-metre (5.6 ft) high stakes laced with barbed wire in-between.[3] It was patrolled by Italian forces and had nine outposts along its length; the three larger forts were located at Amseat (Fort Capuzzo), Scegga (Fort Maddalena), and Giarabub, the smaller ones were at El Ramleh, Sidi Omar, Sceferzen, Vescechet, Garn ul Grein, and El Aamara.[1]


The fence still runs along the Libyan–Egyptian border from near Tobruk, finishing at Giarabub where the desolate Great Sand Sea begins.

The construction of the fence was dramatized in the film Lion of the Desert.

During World War II Italian and Libyan colonial troops led by Col. Salvatore Castagna resisted for nine months at the siege of Giarabub by British troops of a vastly superior number, using even the fence wire. The siege ended with the conquest of Giarabub on 21 March 1941. The resistance of the Italian troops was vastly celebrated by the fascist regime and used to minimize their military defeat in Cyrenaica in early 1941.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Fallen Eagles: The Italian 10th Army in the opening campaign in the Western Desert, June 1940 - December 1940 pg. 14
  2. ^ Time Magazine: Peace in Libya
  3. ^ 28 (Maori) Battalion, pg. 142
  4. ^ Battle of Giarabub (in Italian)

External links[edit]