Thursday, April 13, 2006
From 20 June 1941, towards Damascus
The night of 20 June 1941, the 2/3rd Australian Battalion blocked the Beirut road. The staged a surprise assault at Barada gorge that opened the way. A counterattack was beaten back, and they held they position. By mid-morning, signs of a Vichy collapse were apparent. The RAF interdicted the Vichy withdrawal, and the Free French Brigade, augmented by Australian machine-gunners was on the edge of Damascus. By afternoon, General Legentilhomme was able to enter Damascus as the new Military Governor. The Official History credits the 5th Indian Brigade with doing the hard fighting to make all this possible. They had suffered heavily, losing "738 officers and men". This is based on the account in the Official History.