Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Moving north on the coastal plain on 12 June 1941

The Australian 21st Brigade was moving north along the coast towards Sidon, which they reached by late 12 June 1941. Brigadier Stevens had sent two field guns forward in support, in case any more tanks appeared. They ended up in a duel with French guns "over open sights". Brigadier Stevens was involved and was slightly wounded by a shell fragment. Late in the day on 12 June, the Australians were strafed by French aircraft and took casualties. The Australians wanted to negotiate with the French to spare Sidon from a battle. Instead, the French artillery commenced firing. The Australians returned the fire. The town was overlooking a harbor dating from Phoenician times. The town had some 12,000 people in close quarters. North and south of the town were fruit trees. The orchard were contained with nine-foot walls. The Australians were impressed by the beauty of the place, as it was the nicest that they had seen so far. Brigadier Stevens decided to let the 2/16th Battalion take Sidon from the French. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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