Sir Geoffrey Cox described Sidi Rezegh, fought during Operation Crusader in Libya over November and December 1941, as 'the forgotten battle of the Desert War'. The objective of Crusader was to retake Cyrenaica, the eastern region of Libya, and ultimately drive the Italians and Germans out of North Africa. The campaign also involved British and South African troops, and did achieve the badly needed relief of Tobruk. Despite the New Zealand Division's major role, and the importance of this campaign in achieving British victory in North Africa, it has largely been neglected by historians, failing to receive as much attention as Crete, El Alamein or Cassi. Yet more New Zealand soldiers were killed or taken prisoner during Crusader than in any other campaign fought by 'the Div' during the war. Peter Cox, whose father fought at Sidi Rezegh, draws on his experience of twice visiting the battlefield to tell the story of this complex and costly campaign. He sets the scene for the fighting in Libya, describes the unforgiving and inhospitable desert landscape, follows the stages of the action itself and recounts the often moving and heroic stories of the New Zealanders who fought there. Many never returned home. This is both a very accessible account of a significant New Zealand contribution to World War II and a tribute to the thousands of men who took part in this punishing battle.
Peter Cox undertook detailed study of the battle of Sidi Rezegh in order to write his first book, Good Luck to All the Lads (2008), which told the wartime story of his father, Brian Cox, who fought at Sidi Rezegh. After further study, he has now written this more extensive and authoritative account of the battle. Peter was born and educated in Nelson. He moved to Christchurch after qualifying as a chartered accountant and established his own business consultancy there in 1987. He now also works as a company director and is also a director of High Performance Sport NZ. He and his wife Robin have two adult children. His other interests include classic motorsport, New Zealand art and literature and military history.