Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On the left wing at Sidon on 14 and 15 June 1941

In the area near Sidon, there was a building that the Australians called a monastery, but that was actually a military barracks. The 2/27th Battalion was moving on Sidon from 13 June 1941. Much of the action was due to the individual platoons, not even company-sized units. Sergeant Macpherson led one platoon of seventeen men. They were able to move forward and entered the village of Miyeoumiye from the east side. The French defenders were surprised to find the Australians among them and 24 surrendered. The Australians found forty pack mules, which the supposed meant that the French were planning on a withdrawal. The other two platoons of the company had failed in their attack. They had tried to advance into the face of machine gun fire from the supposed monastery. They had withdrawn during the night. The 2/16th Battalion was still south of Sidon on 14 June. Brigadier Stevens was personally involved and he called in artillery to stop a French attack that included tanks. There had been hard fighting on 13 and 14 June, seemingly to no effect, but by 15 June, they found that the French had withdrawn. They suspected that Sidon had also been abandoned. At 4pm on 15 June, Brigadier Stevens entered Sidon and took control. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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