Before dawn on 18 November, Eighth Army launched a surprise attack, advancing west from its base at Mersa Matruh and crossing the Libyan border near Fort Maddalena, some 50 miles (80 km) south of Sidi Omar, and then pushing to the north-west. Eighth Army were relying on the Desert Air Force to provide them with two clear days without serious air opposition but torrential rain and storms the night before the offensive resulted in the cancellation of all the air-raids planned to interdict the Axis airfields and destroy their aircraft on the ground.  However, initially all went well for the Allies. 7th Armoured division's 7th Armoured Brigade advanced north-west towards Tobruk with 22nd Armoured Brigade to their left. XIII Corps and New Zealand Division made its flanking advance with 4th Armoured Brigade on its left and 4th Indian Division's 7th Infantry Brigade on its right flank at Sidi Omar. On the first day no resistance was encountered as Eighth Army closed on the enemy positions.
Colonel Kress von Kressenstein did all he could to keep the British occupied, launching an attack on 8 April 1915 when a mine was placed in the Suez Canal, which was located and disabled by a patrol, and between 5 and 13 May 1915 he personally led a charge. During the Gallipoli Campaign these tactics were abandoned. Von Kressenstein also demanded German special forces, which were promised to arrive in February 1916, to prepare another expedition against the Canal. He moved to the headquarters of the Fourth Army in Ain Sofar in August, then to the new headquarters in Jerusalem , and waited for the German specialists.   However, the Ottoman line of communication was extended towards Egypt, with the completion of the 100-mile (160 km) section of the Ottoman railway to Beersheba, which was opened on 17 October 1915.