Thursday, October 02, 2014

The 2/31st Battalion on the attack on 8 June 1941 in Syria

The 2/31st Australian Battalion was the leftmost battalion of the 25th Australian Brigade. They were to move forward with three of their companies on 8 June 1941 in Syria. Two companies would move past Khirbe. The third company would move up to Kafr Tibnite. They would cross the Litani bridge. The French defenders were in a strong position on heights and with a Crusader fort. The start time was 2am on 8 June. They had sent a Free French officer forward under a white flag to ask the defenders not to resist. They refused and started firing. The attackers were pinned down by fire by 4:30am. The battalion was stopped and located in the open where they were very vulnerable. There was a change of plans after these developments. The battalion commander decided that artillery and tanks would be needed. Three light tanks of the 6th Australian Cavalry Regiment came forward and attacked three machine gun nests, which stopped firing. Two tanks were knocked out and the third withdrew with the survivors. The attack had been stopped and no progress had been made by dark. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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