Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The Vichy French response in Syria in early June 1941
The Vichy French army commander in Syria in June 1941 was General Verdlhac. Free French forces had made a rapid advance on Damascus, and the general was concerned that they had gotten so close. General Verdilhac decided to fight at Nahr el Awaj. He positioned the 6th Chasseurs d'Afrique and a Foreign Legion unit there to defend the position. The 6th Chasseurs d'Afrique were equipped with tanks, and the II/6th Foreign Legion were among the best troops. By 11 June, he had added the 7th Chasseurs d'Afrique and I/6th Foreign Legion. The defense at the Litani river included part of a regiment, with Algerian companies and some Foreign Legion troops. In the north, the best troops and most French tanks were "between Mount Hermon and the desert". There were also some Tunisian troops near the Jebel Druze. This defense had proved to be fairly effective. The center British advance was stopped. The advance along the coast had done better, but it was obvious that the attackers would have to fight their way north. On the right, the Free French had been stopped, so they were being augmented by the 5th Indian Brigade, which had been providing a rear-guard. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.