Monday, June 15, 2015

Taking Jebel Mazar near Mount Hermon

By June 26, 1941, Brigadier Lomax had wanted to withdraw his battalions to a safe position and go into a defensive posture. Major Stevenson, of the 2/3rd Battalion asked to make another attempt to capture Jebel Mazar. The new company from Sidon, had 110 men. It was larger than the remnants of the other companies combined. They were given bad guiding by the unreliable Syrian, so they did not meet up with Hutchison's company when they started to climb. They attempted an attack on the morning of 26 June. They ran into heavy machine gun fire. Shortly after this, Captain Murchison, the commander of the fresh company, found the remnants of Hutchison's company. They combined into one group, by the time Brigadier Lomax had wanted them to withdraw. At about 7pm, a sentry saw the French making an attack. They forced the attackers back towards Hutchison, where they were caught by Bren gun fire. They were decimated, as they had been caught by surprise. The survivors escaped. By 1am on 27 June, the two groups combined and started climbing in "single file". The Australians had the advantage that they could see the French defenders in silhouette, while the Australians were in darkness. There was a quick fight, where the French were beaten. They rested for ten minutes and fell asleep on the rocks. They neared the summit, where they still had the advantage of stealth from the dark while the French were easily seen against light. They charged, took one machine gun, while the other started firing at 30 yards. They charged, fired a Very pistol round. The defenders were Africans, and they ran at the attack. They were under fire from machine guns located at some distance. They climbed another 400 yards, and were at the top. They made one final charge, yelling, and the French and Africans broke and ran. Murchison fired his Very pistol, to signal that they had won. When they saw the light from the flare, some French and Africans surrendered. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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