Monday, April 13, 2015

Later on 16 June 1941 near Kuneitra, Syria

At 1820 on 16 June 1941, a French officer drove up in an armored car to the Fusiliers battalion headquarters in Kunietra. He had a Fusiliers prisoner with him. He informed the surviving battalion commander that they were surrounded by a "vastly superior force of tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles". He hoped that they would surrender, because he did not like fighting the "Englishmen". After a half hour, the commander decided to surrender his 13 officers and 164 men that we previously mentioned. When the battalion commander walked over to the French officer, he saw 11 medium tanks nearby. Not all the battalion had been at Kuneitra. There was still one company which had approached Kuneitra with a 25-pounder gun. They approached from Kiswe, fired off what ammunition they had, and then withdrew. Late on 16 June, the machine gun battalion commander, Lt-Col Blackburn, had heard about the plight of the Fusiliers at Kuneitra. In a typically bizarre incident, an officer from General Wilson's headquarters had brought orders directly from Wilson to take ammunition to Kuneitra. General Wilson seems to have been totally out of touch with the situation, and had taken the initiative outside the chain of command. He must have thought that he was interfering to try and help, but the officers on the scene were in control of the situation and were taking steps to respond to the French attack. During 15 and 16 June 1941, Brigadier Lloyd was at Kiswe. The forces on the east side were within nine miles of Damascus and were going to take the risk to continue to menace the city and perhaps take it. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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