Monday, May 11, 2015

Brigadier Lloyd's plan on 18 June 1941

Brigadier Lloyd commanded the attack on the right of the British attack on Lebanon and Syria. The Vichy French had launched a counter-attack on his rear in an attempt to stop his advance on Damascus. On 18 June 1941, Brigadier Lloyd thought that the best plan would be to push on Damascus. That would counteract the attacks to the left. He had not received word that Kuneitra had been recaptured from the French, which would have confirmed that he was on the right track. The plan was for the Free French to move towards Kadem, which would threaten the south side of Damascus. The 5th Indian Brigade would move on the left through Kuneitra and on to the road between Beirut and Damascus, to cut the main road. A defensive group was formed of Free French Marines and two companies from the 5th Indian Brigade. They would be located "from Artouz to Jebel Madani". The big move was for the remaining two battalions of the 5th Indian Brigade to move forward. They would move to Mezze, take the place, and then form a defensive position. They were an all-Indian unit now. The Indians would move out at 8:30pm on 18 June. By 10pm, they were fired on by French artillery. There was a heavy fight, but the French post was disrupted so the men could move forward. The vehicles got ahead of the infantry and got in trouble, but the infantry continued on and were up to Mezze by 4:15am on 19 June. They attacked at 4:30am. The men then worked to set up defenses at Mezze. They made road blocks from "timber, stones and wire". All during 19 June, the French attacked. Colonel Jones sent men to let Brigadier Lloyd know their situation. They reached the headquarters at 5:30am on 20 June. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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