Tuesday, May 12, 2015

French tanks in Syria in 1941

We asked the obvious question: "What sorts of tanks did the Vichy French have in Syria?" The French use of tanks against the Australians and the 5th Indian Brigade were a major factor in the counter-attack that destroyed the 5th Indian Brigade and held up the advance to Damascus. The Australian Official History has at least a partial answer. There were two tanks regiments, each equipped with 45 R-35 tanks. These were the Chasseurs d'Afrique. The armored cars that were involved were all locally-converted vehicles. There were some 150 armored cars, a few equipped with 37mm guns. Others just had machine guns. They were effective enough against the Australians, who had just carriers. The reference to the tanks is on page 358 of Greece, Crete and Syria, by Gavin Long. This is Volume II of the Australian Official History. Frank Cozens, in a forum post, suggests that there were some purpose-built French armored cars present, as well. He says that the armored vehicles were painted dark green. Chris Ellis, in Tanks of the World, shows a North African R-35 in olive green with the rail attachment for helping with crossing ditches and rough ground.

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