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The 60th Field Regiment returned to Egypt in September 1941.  Re-equipped with brand-new 25-pounder guns, they were now part of the 7th Support Group of the 7th Armoured Division of the 8th Army--the famous "Desert Rats".

In November 1941, the regiment crossed through the frontier wire separating Egypt from  Libya to take part in "Operation Crusader".

The British had at last got more tanks, guns and men than the Germans, and the idea behind Operation Crusader was to smash the Afrika Korps once and for all. Over 600 tanks in 30 Corps would crush Rommel's two Panzer Divisions. Once this had been done the 8th Army would go on to relieve the port of Tobruk, which had been under siege for months.

On the first day, Tuesday, the whole of 30 Corps made good progress in the desert.  There was just one snag--the Afrika Korps was nowhere to be seen!  In fact, Rommel was gathering his forces together, for he was planning to launch an assault on Tobruk THAT WEEKEND!  Both the British and the German armies were heading for the same place…

As the Germans had inconveniently not turned up, it was decided to split the 7th Armoured Division.  The 22nd Armoured Brigade was sent towards the west to deal with some Italians, whilst the 7th Armoured Brigade (three tank regiments), closely followed by the 7th Support Group, made good progress in the north and were now only a few miles from beleaguered Tobruk at a place in the desert called Sidi Rezegh. The whole point of Operation Crusader was to overwhelm Rommel's two Panzer Divisions by sheer weight of numbers. Yet within 24 hours, 30 Corps was scattered all over the desert. It was an incredible decision.

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As the 7th Armoured Brigade was so near Tobruk, it was decided that they should launch an attack on the Friday morning.  They'd no sooner started when BOTH of Rommel's Panzer Divisions turned up behind them.  Isolated from the rest of 30 Corps, the 7th Armoured Brigade and the Support Group now had Germans to the front and to the rear.

What followed has been described as one of the great anti-tank battles of the war.  Altogether, the battle at Sidi Rezegh lasted for three days, each day presenting a fresh challenge from Rommel's fertile mind.  The 60th Field Regiment was at the forefront, their marvellously accurate 25-pounders blazing away as wave after wave of German tanks seemed to arrive on the battlefield.  The 7th Armoured Brigade lost virtually all their tanks, and when the other two Armoured Brigades arrived on the Saturday it quickly became very clear that their light tanks (Crusaders and the American "Honeys") weren't much good.

A 25-pounder in action in the desert

The Grimsby battery fared particularly badly.  Many of their men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner and almost all of their guns were put out of action. "F" troop of 239 battery were the last British soldiers still fighting on the battlefield when they withdrew under the cover of 2 or 3 tanks. After several days the survivors managed to re-group and with only half their 25-pounders still in action they harried Rommel's Panzers for the next 5 weeks.

Brigadier Jock Campbell, the Officer Commanding the 7th Support Group, was in the thick of the action and at one stage was giving the exhausted gunners of the 60th Field Regiment a hand in loading the guns.  He was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

Lieutenant Ward Gunn of the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery was also posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross- so two of the three VCs awarded to men of the Royal Artillery in WW2 were both won within 24 hours at Sidi Rezegh.