Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Litani bridge and commandos on 8 and 9 June 1941

The original plan for 8 June 1941 was for a commando unit to land behind the bridge over the Litani river. They hoped to keep the bridge from being demolished. There was an immediate problem with this plan. The commando unit had set sail from Port Said on the amphibious transport Glengyle. The Glengyle carried landing craft on davits like boats. The Glengyle had arrived off the beach early on 8 June, but the captain could see that there was a heavy surf and he was concerned that the landing craft would not be able to make the beach without capsizing. The new plan was for the commandos to try again on 9 June. If the Australian were able to take the bridge prior to that, they would fire very lights to warn the commandos. If the commandos were not able to get ashore on 9 June, the 2/16th Battalion would launch an attack towards the bridge. The commandos got ashore, but in the wrong spot. They must have triggered the bridge being blown. Right before the 2/16th Battalion would attack, they were notified that the bridge had already been blown. The alternate plan was to use boats to cross the river. Given the defense of the river and the swift current, the new plan was to carry a rope across and use it to pull the boats across the river. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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