December 30, 1941 – Operation Crusader was a military operation by the British Eighth Army between 18 November–30 December 1941 during the Second World War. The operation successfully relieved the 1941 Siege of Tobruk. The Eighth Army’s initial plan to destroy the Axis armoured force before advancing its infantry came apart when, after a number of inconclusive engagements, the British 7th Armoured Division were heavily defeated by the Afrika Korps at Sidi Rezegh. Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel’s subsequent advance of his armoured divisions to the Axis fortress positions on the Egyptian border failed to find the main body of the Allied infantry, which had bypassed the fortresses and headed for Tobruk, so Rommel had to withdraw his armoured units to support the fighting at Tobruk. Despite achieving some tactical successes at Tobruk, the need to preserve his remaining forces prompted Rommel to withdraw his army to the defensive line at Gazala, west of Tobruk, and then all the way back to El Agheila. It was the first victory over the German ground forces by British-led forces in the Second World War.