There was a serious argument between General Godwin-Austen and General Gott. General Godwin-Austen wanted the British armor to attack and destroy the German armor. Gott did noto want to risk fighting. He seems to have little faith in the British cruiser and light tanks to stand up to German armor in serious combat. General Gott was able to not do any more than maneuver his tanks. An attack was planned at Gazala for 15 December 1941. The infantry units would make a 'frontal attack" at Gazala. The British armor would make a flanking move around the left end of the line. The attack by the New Zealand brigade and the Polish brigade succeeded. The enemy could still cause casualties, as southwest of Alam Hamza, they overran the 1/Buffs. The 4th Armoured Brigade ended up in Bir el Eleba. General Godwin-Austen still pushed for a fight by British armor. We still believe that General Gott and Alex Gatehouse lacked confidence in their ability to fight the Germans. The only equipment that they had that was very effective were the American-built M3 Stuart light tanks. With their governors removed they could reach 40 mph. They were lightly armed, however. On 16 December, Gatehouse requested and received permission to send his tanks against the enemy rear areas, which caused considerable panic. Brigadier Gatehouse's moves caused Rommel to withdraw to Western Cyrenaica. He had seen the 7th Support Group moving towards Tengender, which was enough for Rommel. But while the British had held onto their armored forces, so had the Germans.
With the British advance to the west, the RAF was able to occupy airfields, including at Mechili. The situation was in flux, however, as Fliegerkorps II was moving into the theater. The Germans were also actively pursuing a anti-shipping campaign with their submarine force. The British were able to sink three German submarines in November and December. The submarines were seeing success against shipping supplying Tobruk. The British fleet at Alexandria was suffering losses. They included cruisers and destroyers. The worst thing happened when Italian under water demoliatin forces were able to damage the battleships Valiant and Queen Elizabeth. At the same time, Australian had to pull ships back into their home waters to fight the Japanese. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.