Egyptian Frontier, 1940
This Action covers the initial period of domination of the frontier area by our light forces, when constant brushes occurred with the enemy, in which losses were inflicted on him.
The Honour has been awarded to the 8th Hussars.
British troops were ordered to dominate the frontier and isolate Giarabub. They crossed into Libya that night, exchanged fire with Italian troops at Sidi Omar and discovered that some Italians were unaware that war had been declared.
On the 14th of June, the British captured Fort Capuzzo and Fort Maddalena, taking 220 prisoners. Two days later, the British raided a convoy on the Tobruk–Bardia road, killed 21 Italian soldiers and took 88 prisoners, including Generale di Brigata (Brigadier General) Romolo Lastrucci, the 10th Army Chief Engineer.
At an engagement near the frontier wire at Nezuet Ghirba, a mixed force of British tanks, artillery and motorised infantry defeated an Italian force of 17 light tanks, four guns and 400 infantry.
The British patrolled the frontier area as far west as Tobruk, establishing dominance over the 10th Army.
On the 5th of August, thirty Italian tanks engaged the 8th Hussars in an inconclusive action and Wavell concluded that vehicle wear made it impractical to continue operations when an Italian offensive loomed.
Sand wore out equipment quickly, shortening the track life of tanks. Spare parts ran out and only half the tank strength could be kept operational.
A lull fell from August to early September as Operation Hats, a naval operation, reinforced the Mediterranean Fleet and helped to bring an army convoy of tanks and crews via the Cape.
The British claimed to have inflicted 3,500 casualties with a loss of 150 men between the 11th of June and the 9th of September.