Tuesday, July 21, 2015
A Bad Plan on 24 June 1941 For Attacking Hill 1284
For the attack on Hill 1284 on 24 June 1941, Australian soldiers were expected to climb a steep ridge, under fire, to attack a "small fortress". The French position had a six-foot rock wall. There was also a pill box. The area bounded by the wall had a diameter of fifty yards. Inside the wall were machine gun emplacements. The defenders seem to have been French Foreign Legion troops. One Australian platoon commanded by Lieutenant O'Day took two hours to climb "the rocky slope". The platoon only had 32 men. The Australians charged and took the pill box, which was manned by just two men. There was a fierce fight between O'Day's platoon and the French. after an hour of fighting, the Australians were running short of ammunition. At noon, the French attacked. The French fired a heavy mortar that was fired at possible hiding places between rocks. They also sent out a group of twenty men with sacks of grenades. The Australians drove the group back into the fort after shooting six men. Lieutenant O'Day realized that the survivors of his platoon needed to withdraw. The eventually reached the outposts of the 2/31st Battalion at 2pm. A small group of O'Day's platoon had been left behind, but they eventually were able to withdraw to the 2/31st Battalion positions. Of the 32 men who attacked, 18 had survived, unwounded. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.