Monday, June 29, 2015
The new plan for the force attacking Syria from Iraq in late June 1941
By 28 June 1941, the forces attacking Palmyra were still finding strong resistance. The 1/Essex battalion might have taken the chateau that day, but the defenders still were holding up further progress. The situation prompted the commanders to order the 10th Indian Division from Iraq to attack towards Aleppo. The 10th Indian Division was commanded by General Slim, later to become famous for his service in the Far East. One factor that we have not previously mentioned is that Germany had invaded Russia starting on 22 June 1941. In everyone's assessment, they assumed that the invasion removed any threat of Germany invading the Middle East beyond their fighting in the Western Desert in Libya and Egypt. General Wavell had reported to the CIGS about the situation and had said that he would have the force from Iraq bypass Palmyra and move on to Homs. He would order the Free French to advance to the road from Homs to Nebek. They would order the Australians to beat back the French forces at Merdjayoun. The British 16th Brigade would be sent to take Rayak. More reinforcements were sent from Egypt. This time it would be the 23rd Brigade, also from the 6th British Division, the same as the 16th Brigade. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.