Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The 25th Australian Brigade from 1 July 1941

On 1 July 1941, the 25th Brigade was holding not a line, but a line of posts. That implies that they had gaps in the front. They were located north of Jezzine and to the east. They were on the road that ran to the north from Jezzine, as well. Patrols were finding evidence that the French were withdrawing from some positions. They found that the French were defending Hasrout, which was on a road that ran do the east. The French had pulled out from what was just a track that led to Jleiliye. They also found that on the night of 2 July, the French had pulled back from Wadi Nagrat and were withdrawing on Beit ed Dine. Brigadier Stevens then decided to send two columns against Rharife. They were mixed battle groups, one from the 2/25th Battalion and the other from the 2/2nd Pioneers. They would converge on Hasrout and then move on Rharife. The Pioneers took casualties on 3 July. Because the company commander was wounded, they were delayed in moving into Jleiliye. The other company was still short of Mtoulle at the end of the day. For the 2/25th Battalion, the plan was for one company to take the town while the other company took the plateau above Hasrout. The terrain was extremely difficult. An Australian bayonet attack routed the defenders. One platoon took Hasrout and set up a road block. When they could see French troops readying for an attack, they called in artillery and forced them to withdraw. By about midday on 4 July, the Pioneers had taken Mtoulle and were in communication with the other column. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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