December 09 Brits Launch Offensive Against Italians in North Africa 1940 British command decided to make a first strike. On December 7, armored car patrols surreptitiously set out to determine gaps in the minefield the Italians had laid. On December 9, Major General Richard Nugent O'Connor from Mersa Matruh in Egypt launched a westward offensive. Thirty thousand Brits warred against 80,000 Italians-but the British brought with them 275 tanks against the Italians' 120. As O'Connor cut through a gap in the chain of forts the Italians had established, the British 7th Armored Division swept along the western coast to cut off any hope of an Italian retreat. Within three days, 40,000 Italian prisoners were taken. The end of the Italian occupation of North Africa had begun. December 09 The Texan Army captures San Antonio. 1835: The Texan Army captures San Antonio. Inspired by the spirited leadership of Benjamin Rush Milam, the newly created Texan Army takes possession of the city of San Antonio, an important victory for the Republic of Texas in its war for independence from Mexico.