Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The campaign in Syria and Lebanon in June and July 1941

I was interested to read that for political reasons, the news about the fighting in Syria and Lebanon was suppressed in the Allied news media. There was a substantial Australian participation, hence the inclusion in the Australian Official History. The stage was set for this campaign when Admiral Darlan signed an accord with the Germans that gave them access to Syria. The Vichy Minister of War had sent orders to General Dentz to allow German and Italian aircraft to refuel in Syria. The Germans also wanted to be able to use rail lines in Syria to supply the Iraqi rebels with arms and supplies. One of the Vichy aircraft shot down during British air operations included a Martin 167F, which was used by the British as the Martin Maryland. The Vichy aircraft was shot down over Palestine, so they were apparently actively conducting air operations against the British. The initial French air strength consisted of 90 aircraft, but that was increased to 289 aircraft by reinforcements. There were also two French destroyers and three submarines available to participate in the upcoming battles. This is based on information from the Wikipedia page about the Syria-Lebanon Campaign.

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