Thursday, April 27, 2006

The 7th Australian Division at the River Damour in July 1941

The 7th Australian Division now had three full brigades, with the formation of the 17th Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Savige. The division was positioned near the coast and had the task of fighting a battle against five Vichy battalions with artillery, defending the River Damour. The plan was for the 21st Brigade to attack the village of El Atiqa, at the river. The 17th Brigade would then advance to exploit the breakthrough. The 25th Brigade would take the rail center at Beit ed Dine. No breakthrough at El Atiqa occurred, despite gains there. To the east, however, the 17th Brigade was able to move forward and beat back Vichy counterattacks. On 9 July 1941, the 17th Brigade took the town of Damour. This was sufficient to cause a general Vichy retreat. A stiff fight took place at Khalde on 10 July, five miles from Beirut. North of Jezzine, fighting still was proceeding. Private J. H. Gordon, of the 2/31st Australian Battalion won a Victoria Cross for his acations in the night of 10 July. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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