Tuesday, December 09, 2014

10 June 1941: A Test of Strength

Brigadier Berryman asked if the cavalry could test the enemy's strength. The test was planned for Colonel Porter's front. A small force of one light tank and six carriers were to move forward towards Khirbe to draw French fire. Three carriers would move forward along the road until there was suitable ground to deploy. The other group of three carriers would be on their right and deploy. The light tank was in a hull-down position to offer support to the carriers. The tank was located near an artillery observation post that would call in support. The carriers on the right reached the foot of the hill where Khirbe was located. The carriers on the left ran into trouble as they drew fire from a French anti-tank gun and machine guns when they attempted to deploy. The leader of the carriers on the left had a track blown off by a mortar bomb. The men ran for a low stone wall, hoping to take cover. Australian artillery fire was called in and knocked out the anti-tank gun. The leader of the right group of carriers went forward to rescue the men trapped behind the wall. The carriers had been heavily hit in the fighting so that only two were undamaged. Brigadier Cox had wanted them to support an infantry attack at 2am, but finally relented and released the carriers from that duty at 9pm. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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