Tuesday, February 24, 2015

With the Free French on 12 and 13 June 1941 in Syria

Major-General Paul Legentilhomme commanded the Free French forces on the eastern portion of the Syrian Campaign. He was an old East African veteran, having been in French Somaliland and Eritrea. The Free French had continued to attack the Vichy defenses at Kiswe. There was a report that the Vichy French tanks were moving around their flank, General Legentilhomme had his troops hold their present positions on Jebel Maani and Jebel Badrane. Later in the day, the General was wounded. General Wilson weighed in on the situation with General Wavell and opined that there was not a counter-attack in progress. He did order the 5th Indian Brigade to be under the Free French command and left the protection of the rear to the Transjordan Frontier Force, which was a very small unit. Fortunately, the tanks sighted were Free French, so there was less reason to panic. When the 5th Indian Brigade commander saw the Vichy French defenses at Kiswe, he thought that the positions were so strong that they would need strong artillery support with a set-piece attack to take the place. He discussed the situation with the wounded General Legentilhomme and they agreed to wait until 15 June to attack Kiswe. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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