Monday, July 20, 2015

The attack at Kharat on 22 June 1941

Kharat was a mountain that was occupied by the Australians near Jezzine in Lebanon. Brigadier Cox commanded the forces near Jezzine on 21 June 1941. He had just received reinforcements in the form of the 2/14th Battalion. He had planned an attack from Kharat on the night of 21 to 22 June. General Allen, now commanding the 7th Australian Division was concerned, when he heard of the plan, that there was no artillery support planned. That proved to be incorrect, but the concern and changes made caused the attack to be postponed to 22 June. The artillery fired their planned program. Two companies from the 2/14th were known to have started off as planned. The men of the 2/31st Battalion were concerned. The officers reported back to the battalion commander that they could not see anyone from the 2/14th Battalion. They eventually found out that the combination of fog and difficult terrain had kept the 2/14th Battalion companies from reaching the start line until the company commanders decided that it was too late to actually attack. The attack was postponed again to the next day. The end result was that by the end of 22 June, nothing had been achieved, except giving away their intentions to the French. The next night, the two Victorian companies stepped off at 1am. At 4am, the infantry fired two Very lights to signal to the artillery that they could start firing. The men moved down Kharat and immediately took casualties from French fire. In the end, a small group of survivors surrendered to Senegalese troops. The attack failed, as they men were expected to cross open country under fire and they were decimated in the process. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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