Tuesday, April 07, 2015
The situation as of the night of 15 and 16 June 1941 in Syria and Lebanon
The British commanders who had planned the attack on Syria had decided to attack in spite of having what were inadequate forces. The attackers had been fortunate in the first days to have not met serious resistance, except near Merdjayoun. The Australians under General Lavarack's command had just the two brigades of infantry with supporting artillery, engineers, and cavalry. General Wilson ordered the 7th Australian Division to send "anti-tank guns and ammunition" to bolster the defenses at Kuneitra. He also diverted to Deraa the first battalion to arrive from the British 16th Brigade. The 7th Australian Division had very little left in way of reserves. There was the division headquarters, two machine gun companies, and the headquarters and one battery from an anti-tank regiment. There was also a pioneer battalion that had units spread across the Australian front doing "engineer work". WIth General Lavarack being responsible for some 37 miles of front, he deployed his meager reserves where he could. He sent the machine-gunners and the anti-tank battery to hold the "bridge of the daughters of Jacob" over the Jordan River, reminding us that we are in biblical lands. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.