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In Roman times the town was known as Petras Maior.
During World War II, it was the site of a major Italian fortification, invested by the XXIII Corps under the command of General Annibale Bergonzoli. On 21 June 1940, the town was bombarded by the 7th Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet. In this fleet was the cruiser HMAS Sydney. The town was taken during Operation Compass by Commonwealth forces consisting mainly of the Australian 6th Division in fighting over 3–5 January 1941.
The Axis later reoccupied the town and set up a prisoner of war camp there. On 2 January 1942, Bardia was re-taken by the South African 2nd Infantry Division, including New Zealand cavalry units. The South Africans, many of them ill-trained and ill-equipped police, lost hundreds of men, but the operation freed some 8,000 Allied prisoners of war and took some 6,000 Axis prisoners.
- Wolfram Alpha
- Bardīyah (Approved)) at GEOnet Names Server, United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
- Bórdi Slemán (Variant) at GEOnet Names Server, United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
- Stern, Robert Cecil (2007) The hunter hunted: submarine versus submarine : encounters from World War I Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, note 15 of Chapter 13, page 205, from page 94, ISBN 978-1-59114-379-6 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- Hans Werner Neulen: Feldgrau in Jerusalem. 2. Aufl., Universitas, München 2002, S. 100 ff., ISBN 3-8004-1437-6 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Collier, Richard (1977) The War in the Desert Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, p. 29, ISBN 0-7835-5721-3 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- Time-Life Books (1990) Afrikakorps Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, p. 15, ISBN 0-8094-6983-9 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- "Australian Military Units: Battle of Bardia" Australian War Memorial
- Loughman, R. J. M. (1963) "Chapter 9: The Capture of Bardia" Divisional Cavalry War History Branch, New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 149-168
- Simmonds, Donald "Bardiyah (Bardia) Masterpiece"
- Stevens, William George (1962) Bardia to Enfidaville War History Branch, New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, New Zealand, OCLC 4377202; history of New Zealand troops in North Africa in World War II