Thursday, June 18, 2015
French counter-attack on Jebel Mazar
By 7am on 27 June 1941, the French commenced heavy fire from medium machine guns and field artillery on the Australians on Jebel Mazar. The French started sending groups of men to attack the hill. As the day went on, by afternoon, the situation got more intense. A captured Australian was sent to invite Captain Murchison and his men to surrender. He sent the man back, declining the offer. After 5pm, the French started another artillery attack. The mortars were more effective than the field guns, however. Murchison saw how the situation was developing and decided to hold on until dark and then withdraw, unless something changed. As they climbed down the mountain, they saw no sign of the rest of the battalion. They seemed to have all left. They eventually made their way to Yafour and occupied two large caves, where they slept. By day on 28 June, they found a truck from the Queen's battalion. The truck was used to transport the wounded, The rest made their way out on the next day, eventually joining up with the 2/3rd Battalion. It turned out that Hutchison's company had beaten off an atteck and then had withdrawn to the east. They met Major Stevenson with 16,000 rounds of ammunition that he had wanted to take to Murchison. Once Stevenson realized the situation, he ordered Hutchison to funcation as a rear-guard so that the Queen's and artillery could withdraw. After that they would pull back to Yafour. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.