Monday, July 06, 2015
Events near Merdjayoun from 22 June 1941
They had named the Australian horsed cavalry, "the Kelly Gang". They made their first patrol during the night of 22 to 23 June 1941, in the "hills of the Anti-Lebanon". By this time, the 2/King's Own battalion was added to Brigadier Berryman's force near Merdjayoun. The 2/25th Battalion was put into reserve near the road from Sidon to Merdjayoun. Berryman's force was now operating as companies. The new plan was for a company of the 2/33rd to take the ridge "north of Khiam". Another company, this from the 2/King's Own, would take the ridge from. Two more companies of the 2/King's Own would take Ibeles Saki. The artillery and Pioneers would demonstrate to give the impression that they were going after Merdjayoun. The attack by the 2/33rd commenced at 4:30am. They were opposed by two Algerian companies that had heavy weapons and were dug in. There was hand-to-hand fighting. The Australians took some weapons and used them against the Algerians. About an hour later, there was a counter-attack, which was beaten back. The Algerians made three more attacks during the "afternoon and evening". There was more hand-to-hand fighting. The attack on the other ridge by the 2/King's Own had more trouble, as the British troops had less combat experience. Brigadier Berryman got personally involved. He devised a new fire plan for the artillery and sent a field gun forward for direct fire. The 2/King's Own attacked again at 4:30am on 24 June. The French troops seem to have withdrawn in the night, so the British troops entered Ibeles Saki by 9:30am. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.