Wednesday, August 05, 2015

On 28 June 1941, a major reorganization in Syria and Lebanon

The focus in Lebanon and Syria would switch back to the coast and the western portion of the area. General Wilson had orders issued to focus in the west. The 7th Australian Division would add the 17th Brigade, which was actually understrength. The focus would be on Jezzine and the coast. Btigadier Savige commanded the 17th Australian Brigade. He would have his headquarters, two infantry battalions and the pioneer battalion. The British 6th Division, under General Evetts would have Merdjayoun and Damascus. The British 23rd Brigade would free up Australian units so that they could join the 7th Australian Division. The 6th Division would take a defensive posture. General Lavarack tried to take steps to control the Free French, so that operations on the coast would not be disturbed by anything that the Free French might do to the east. The French position at the Damour River was the main obstacle to moving north to take Beirut. There was a town named Damour, with a population of some 5,000 residents. General Dentz had spoke of fighting in the streets of Beirut, but informed opinion expected that the Vichy French would surrender if the city was taken. Having been left on his own for a while, Brigadier Stevens had prepared a plan for operations after they were allowed to move. The plan was later "amended", as more units were added to the offensive. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Offiicial History.

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