1941 was a year of battle. It was a time of victories and defeat. Australian soldiers, sailors, and airmen fought their first major battles of the Second World War in North Africa and in the Mediterranean. Australian and British troops won a series of early successes in Libya and later in Syria. But they also suffered greatly on mainland Greece and on Crete. When a rapid German offensive swept the British from Libya, all that stopped the Germans from continuing into Egypt was the defiant garrison at Tobruk.