Monday, June 01, 2015

Victories on the ridge southwest of Damascus on 21 June 1941

Early on 21 June 1941, the acting 2/3rd commander, Major Stevenson, learned that the brigade commander wanted the battalion to capture Fort Goybet on the ridge southwest of Damascus. When Stevenson learned more about the situation, he determined to take Fort Weygand after Goybet fell. The artillery fire on Fort Goybet commenced on schedule, but ended ten minutes to early, by the Australian's watches. The attackers were concerned that there might be more artillery fire, so they attacked late. They tried throwing grenades through the gun slits. They realized that they would have to go through the gate to take the fort. They started firing on the fort when a French soldier came out with a white flag. They entered the gate and took 75 French troops, all Europeans, prisoner. This was at 10am. Weygand fell to a group of men from Mezze with sub-machine guns. There was still a small group of men at the roadblock on the road to Beirut. They held the block for twelve hours against tanks and armored cars. By 4pm, a platoon of Indian troops arrived. They had anti-tank rifles and took position above the roadblock. The French had tried attacking Mezze again, but they found Indian and Free French troops there who drove off the attackers. They instead took Fort Goybet and Sarrall, and the 2/3rd battalion headquarters. They also entered Fort Weygand. This was during the night of 20 to 21 June. The Australians found out eventually, that Damascus had fallen at about 11am. The successes to the southwest of Damascus. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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