Monday, September 21, 2015

8 July 1941 at Damour

The situation on 8 July 1941 near Damour was that the town was being threatened on three sides. There were three Australian battalions involved. The 2/5th blocked the road out of Damour to the north. On the northeastern side, the 2/14th Battalion was in position. Then there were the 2/2nd Pioneers "moving up from the south". Artillery support had to be carefully coordinated so as to not shoot at Australians while firing in support. At 5pm, Colonel Chapman brought orders from the division commander, General Allen, proposing that the 21st Brigade would have responsibility for "the area south of the Wadi Daqoun". Brigadier Savige's 17th Brigade would move north along the coast road. The 21st Brigade would move eastward towards Abey. By 7:30pm on 88 July, there were reports of French movement. This was to the north east. During the day on 8 July, two companies were near Damour on the east side. There was some concern that there might be a danger of accidentally firing on Australians.

8 July was a time spent by the 2/16th Battalion on the ridges at Mar Midhail and El Atiqa. They were gradually making themselves more secure. In the morning, three tanks from the 6th Cavalry (probably the captured French R-35 tanks) crossed the river. The 2/2Pioneers were moving north to a point about a mile north from the river. The French were still strong in the banana plantation. One tank caught by a French 75mm gun was knocked out. The 2/5th Field Regiment fired in support and knocked out the French gun. Brigadier Stevens decided to withdraw the men and call in artillery fire on the French. Some ground had been lost on the 8th, but during the night, the Pioneers took back what had been lost and were. A troop of the 6th Cavalry was able to drive through Damour by 4am and they had the town. They found that during the night, the French had withdrawn from where they had been fighting. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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