Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Australian War Memorial on the Start of the Syrian Campaign

There is some interesting coverage of the start of the Syrian campaign on the Australian War Memorial web site. The campaign started on 7 June 1941 and apparently ended on 11 July. The Australians involved were primarily from the 7th Australian Division. The goal of the attack was to occupy Syria, which was under the control of the Vichy French government. There was increasing concern that the French were allowing the Germans to use Syrian territory, particularly to support the uprising in Iraq. The campaign planned to occupy not only Syria but also Lebanon. What was already at work, however, was that the Germans were concentrated on the attack on Russia, from 22 June, and did not want to be tied up in the Eastern Mediterranean area. Oddly enough, the British commander was General Wilson, who we know from his handling of the Greek campaign (or mishandling). Two Australian brigades were involved. One was the 21st Brigade, located in Palestine, and the other was the 25th Brigade, which had as its objective, and airfield at Rayak. An British Indian unit, the 5th Indian Brigade along with the Free French were to head for Damascus. One of the air units involved was from the RAAF. This is based on the account on the Australian War Memorial web site.

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