Monday, March 23, 2015
At the "Windy Corner" on 15 June 1941
One company of the Australian 2/33rd Battalion was at Route "A" near the Windy Corner. The road north of Merdjayoun, in Syria, during the attack on Syria and Lebanon, curves around the bottom of the Balate Ridge. When the road then turns back to the north, there is a divide into what they called routes "A" and "B". During the afternoon of 15 June 1941, French artillery opened fire on the company that was on Route "A" at the "Windy Corner". The company was under Major Onslow's command. He had two 6th Australian Cavalry squadrons. There were also other troops in the vicinity. They included a machine gun platoon, anti-tank guns, and a field artillery battery. The battery was to support the Royal Scots Greys, which were on the road to the north. Suddenly, at 3pm, they received French artillery fire. In a half hour, ten French tanks, fifty cavalry, and two infantry companies moved into the area. They set up machine guns. Starting at 4:30pm, the tanks attacked on both routes "A" and "B". The Australian anti-tank guns hit the leading tank. Two other tanks backed off, but fired on the machine guns. French troops on the heights started firing on the 2/5th, who were below them in elevation and about 1200 yards away. The French had made a stronger attack on Route "B", and had forced the Royal Scots Greys to withdraw back down the road, as they were attacked by French tanks. The tanks were fired on by artillery and the anti-tank guns. After four tanks were knocked out, they moved back around the curve, out of sight. At ROute "A", a large infantry attack took two of the Australian anti-tank guns. After another attack at Route "B", the guns there were pulled back out of danger. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.