Monday, August 17, 2015
The plan for the Australian attack in early July 1941 in Lebanon
By late June 1941, Brigadier Stevens, of the 21st Australian Brigade, discussed the plans with General Allen for the attack in early July against the French in Lebanon. Stevens proposed that they form a box around Damour. The sea would be one side, the 21st Brigade would make two sides, and the 17th Brigade would add the fourth side, "the lid". The plan was for the 17th Brigade to go around the right flank of Damour to block the road that was the only exit. We had seen the 17th Brigade commander, Brigadier Savige, in Greece earlier in the year, in April. In a meeting on 2 July, they had decided to attack on either 5 or 6 July. The 2/2nd Pioneers (without two companies) would take part with the 21st Brigade. Brigadier Stevens was also given control of the 2/25th Battalion and the other two companies of the 2/2nd Pioneers in the east. The attack on Damour would have a large artillery force with 16 medium guns and 44 field guns. By 2 July, the force between Jezzine and the Mediterranean Sea had grown to nine battalions. That is somewhat deceiving,as many units were under strength. For example, the 2/16th Battalion had rifle companies of less than one hundred men. The 17th Brigade only had two battalions for the attacks, although they had but 300 men each. The only reassuring factor was the continuing number of French deserters that seemed to indicate that the French were in even worse shape. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.