Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Action in the east of Syria from 30 June 1941

To the east of Damascus, the Free French had pushed quite a ways to the north. The Free French battalion at Nebek was attacked on 30 June 1941. The unit was the 2nd Free French Battalion along with "four British field guns and some anti-tank guns". The attack started with an artillery barrage at 4:55am. Forty minutes later, seven French tanks approached. Another seven tanks drove south down the road towards the village. They were driven off by the artillery. On the east, the seven tanks were joined by motorized infantry. The anti-tank guns and one field gun knocked out three tanks and drove off the rest. As the French infantry approached, the Free French attacked and "drove them off". The Free French lost eight men and killed forty Vichy French and took 11 men prisoner.

The fight at Palmyra had continued. On 29 June, the Vichy French had attacked and forced the Wiltshire Yeomanry from a ridge above Palmyra. They British at Palmyra had continued to experience heavy French air attack. 30 June saw the 1/Essex able to recapture part of the ridge. By 1 July, they could see the Vichy French pulling in troops to the inner defended area. Earlier, on 26 June, General Clark, commanding Habforce, turned Major Glubb and his Arabs loose to take "Seba Biyar and Sukhna. They took Seba Biyar on 28 June and then found Sukhna empty. The Arabs were reinforced by a squadron of the Household Cavalry. On 1 July, a column drove along the Deir el Zor road. Major Glubb's troops attacked and defeated them. The group proved to be one of the three French light desert companies. They had lost 11 men killed, six armored cars captured along with some 80 men. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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