Omar Browne (foreground, centre) in a funeral party at Halm between the Wars.
To counter these moves the British entered Libya, and the important harbour of Tobruk, situated along the strategic coast road, fell to Australian forces in January 1941. Cyrenaica fell to British troops, and Tripoli itself was threatened. With the rapid collapse of the Italian army the Germans dispatched strong armoured units under the command of Erwin Rommel, to halt the British advance. At this time a political decision was taken in London to send many of the much needed troops from the Middle East in support of Greece and Crete. The German drive to take Tobruk and ultimately the distant prize of Suez was sustained and very determined. The harbour garrison held out against the enemy although the Germans did become established in the desert and along the coast at distances as advanced as up to 70 miles east of Tobruk, effectively isolating the British garrison there other than by sea.
Omar was now in the Support Group, with the 7th Armoured Division, XXX Corps, of the Eighth Army, and as a bandsman was almost certainly serving as a stretcher bearer or other medical service assistant. On November 19th 1941 the 7th Armoured Division and Support Group struck north from the desert to take Sidi Rezegh, approximately 30 miles south east of Tobruk, while other Eighth Army units attacked Sollum and Bir el Gobi. Sidi Rezegh was captured a couple of days later but changed hands yet again the following day. Fighting was particularly fierce, involving tank battles and many casualties, as the Germans strove to take Tobruk and the British strove to relieve it. The 21st and 22nd November was perhaps the climax of the battle, when the XXX Corps was obliged to disengage, having lost two thirds of its armour.
Omar Browne's page on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.