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Date: Wednesday, 3 December 1941
Place: Near Tobruk, Cyrenaica, Libya
A captured Matilda put into use by the German forces, is recaptured and its crew taken prisoner by New Zealand troops, 3 December 1941 during Operation Crusader. On 18 November 1941, Operation Crusader was launched to lift the Siege of Tobruk (the third such attack), under the command of General Alan Cunningham and the New Zealand 2nd Division (integrated into the British Eighth Army) took part in the offensive, crossing the Libyan frontier into Cyrenaica. Operation Crusader was an overall success for the British, although Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps inflicted heavy armour and infantry losses before its weakened and under supplied units retreated to El Agheila and halted the British advance. The New Zealand troops were the ones to relieve Tobruk after fighting around Sidi Rezegh, where Axis tanks had inflicted heavy casualties against the several New Zealand infantry battalions, protected by very little of their own armour. In February, 1942, With Crusader completed, the New Zealand government insisted that the Division be withdrawn to Syria to recover - 879 men were killed and 1700 wounded in Operation Crusader, the most costly battle the Division fought in the Second World War!