Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The 21st Brigade attacks on 7 June 1941

The men of the 7th Australian Division were very much aware that they were untested in battle and needed to prove themselves. We look first at the 21st Brigade on the first day of the attack on Syria and Lebanon. During the day on 7 June 1941, Brigadier Stevens learned that the commandos would not be able to land on 8 June due to the expected weather. Later in the evening, some four hours before the official start, the first Australians crossed the border. They were wearing rubber footwear to help silence their passage. There were men from the 2/14th Battalion and from the 2/6th Field Company. They cut the phone wire that would have alerted the men who would have set off the demolition charges. Their guides, who were Australian and Palestinians, took them to "a Jewish farming colony at Hanita." After they ate a meal, the men crossed the frontier. The hills were very overgrown with thorns and rough. The sky was dark with clouds to help cover their movements. By 3:30am, one group reached the point where charges were expected to be found. The men checked the bridges and culverts, but did not find any mines. A small group blocked the road while the others went south looking for explosives. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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