Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Back to Merdjayoun from 19 June 1941

Brigadier Berryman, the artillery commander, was in charge of the attack on Merdjayoun. An attack that was launched on 17 June 1941 had failed. Brigadier Berryman made plans to attack on 19 June. He walked around the area and planned the artillery fire for the attack. The 2/33rd Battalion was on the right, "on the foothills of Hermon". The 6th Cavalry regiment was in the center. The force on the left was larger, as they would attack the town. All the groups now had anti-tank guns assigned. The left included the Royal Scots Greys, as well as the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion, and a company from the 2/5th Battalion. The 2/25th Battalion was on the far left. The artillery commenced firing at the Merdjayoun fort at 4:20am. They then switched to the real first objective. The artillery fire was immediately answered by French guns. The infantry took losses from the return fire. The Australians were in among the houses, but then French tanks and armored cars moved in and disrupted the attack. The reserve platoons were then sent in, and they "drove off the tanks". The Australians found that their anti-tank rifles were ineffective against the French tanks (which we think were R-35's). By 4:30pm, the attack was spent. They could see more French armored vehicles advancing. They men involved thought that if they had more troops, they could have been more successful, but they had used all the available units. Berryman thought that if they could knock out the tanks with "sticky bombs", they might succeed, but the attackers to pull back. Merdjayound continued to be a problem because of the French tanks. The Australians had no effective counter to them so far. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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