Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The 2/33rd Australian Battalion early on 8 June 1941 in Syria
Lt-Colonel Monaghan's battalion, the 2/33rd, ended up split into companies that had their individual objectives at the start of the invasion of Syria and Lebanon on 8 June 1941. Since we are talking about locations such as Kuneitra, we must be talking about Syria. Captain Bennett's company was sent off through the mountains to occupy Ferdisse. They were to cut the road just to the west. This was a move that did not immediately affect the current operations. Another company, that of Major Wright, was to take border posts and blow up the bridge to keep the French from being able to attack the flank of the column. They took Banias and blew the bridge by early afternoon on 8 June. Captain Cotton's company, further to the left, took more frontier posts. They moved off from Abd el Kamh at the start time of 2am. They reached their first French post by 3am. They lost one Australian in the fight, and the surviving 25 defenders surrendered. We should not be surprised that they were African, since this was a French colony. The defenders were largely Senegalese. One platoon from this company was to take a bridge, the Jisr Abou Zeble. This bridge was for the road from Naias to Merdjayoun. The bridge crossed the Hasbani. They took the bridge at about 4am. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.