Friday, August 28, 2015

The battle for Damour starts: from the night of 5 to 6 July 1941 in Lebanon

The men of the 21st Australian Brigade moved out at about midnight on the night of 4 to 6 July 1941. This was the start of the battle for Damour, in Lebanon. At 12:35pm, the artillery commenced their supporting fire. The ground that the men had to travel was extremely rough. One company from the 2/27th Battalion was in the lead on the narrow track that went down to the river crossing and then up to El Boum. The roughness of the ground meant that they needed to allow resting time along the way. The first platoon was that commanded by Lieutenant Sims, who had found the river crossing. They tried walking in the wadi, so that they would have cover from the French fire, but they decided that they would be safer back on the trail, despite the lack of cover. The wadi had too many places where men might fall. As there started to be light, they reached a barrier of concertina wire. They continued, trying not to be seen. They could hear the French firing. They fixed bayonets and charged into the village. The French were seen running from the attackers. They occupied the village and waited for more men to arrive.

The next company to move out was hit by accurate French artillery fire. Officers were killed and the company commander was wounded. That company needed to be reorganized under the leadership of Lieutenant Thomas. The men at El Boum had expected the second company at 7am. When they did not arrived, the spread out and advanced. By midnight on 6 July, the 2/27th Battalion had taken their objectives, so that the 17th Brigade could move forward. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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