Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The 2/3rd Battalion moves west on 24 June 1941

On 24 June 1941, at 5am, the 2/3rd Battalion moved off to the west in trucks, heading towards Beirut. The three carriers were in the lead, followed by their platoon with anti-tank weapons. Their resources were limited, as they only had an anti-tank rifle and a Very pistol. They also had a 2 inch mortar, it appears. The other two battalions from the 16th Brigade were to advance north towards the road on which they were traveling. As the neared the point where they expected to see a friendly battalion, they received artillery fire and then small-arms fire. They returned the fire, but then discovered they were exchanging fire with the Leicesters. Major Stevenson, commanding the 2/3rd Battalion met with the commander of the Leicesters. He agreed to help take the high ground held by the French. After that, the 2/3rd would be in reserve, holding the road block. The French were firing heavy artillery fire on the road, the heaviest that the 2/3rd had seen. The 2/3rd moved forward in a widely-dispersed formation, since they were under fire. On the south side, the platoon there took the hill that there was their objective. Two French tanks attacked them there. They fired the anti-tank rifle, the Very pistol, and the 2-inch mortar at close range with smoke bombs. They did not damage the tanks, but they caused them to retreat. The two field guns with the 2/3rd were knocked out, but they had fired on French cavalry and drove them away. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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