Tuesday, May 05, 2015
The Syrian Campaign plan and the progression in June 1941
General Wilson had decided to reorganize the attacking force in Syria and Lebanon as the campaign progressed in June 1941. When they reached the road between Beirut and Damascus, General Lavarack would become a corps commander and General Allen would become the 7th Australian Division commander. General Lavarack would then become the commander of operations in Syria and Lebanon. While they had not reached the road between the two cities, they still made the transfer so that someone below the level of General Wilson would have overall control of the campaign. General Wilson was situated in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, not very close to the action in Syria and Lebanon. General Wilson was responsible for a larger area than Syria and Lebanon, as he had Palestine and Trans-Jordan, as well. General Lavarack had the 7th Australian Division, the 5th Indian Brigade, and the 1st Free French Division under his command. The only unit in Syria not under General Lavarack's command was "Habforce" from Iraq. The 16th British Brigade was included in the 7th Australian Division for this operation. On 18 June, General Wilson made a radio broadcast asking for General Dentz to withdraw from Damascus and made Damascus an "open city". This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.