Wednesday, September 23, 2015

After Damour fell on 9 July 1941

Once the Australians realized that the French had withdrawn from Damour and surrounding positions, they exploited the situation. By 7am on 9 July 1941, men from the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion and the 2/16th Battalion met Captain Noonan's company from the 2/14th Battalion. This was on the northeast side of Damour. The 6th Cavalry and some Pioneers moved up to Karacol. The roadblock on the road to Beirut now was held by two companies from the 2/5th Battalion. A local Lebanese told someone on Brigadier Savige's staff that the French had pulled out of Abey. This was to the east. They sent word to General Allen, the 7th Australian Division commander of the situation.

Brigadier Berryman had arrived back in the west from Merdjayoun to resume his role as the 7th Division artillery commander. The commander of the 2/5th Field Regiment had driven north for 3-1/2 miles to a roadblock. Two tanks from the 6th Cavalry were held by the roadblock. Brigadier Berryman gave orders for continued movement to the north and informed the division headquarters of his actions. There was a situation now that the division commander had told the 17th Brigade not to advance until he issued orders. Men with guns from the 2/5th Field Regiment moved quickly north. The guns that were farthest north were around Karacol. They were drawn into a duel with French guns, firing over open sights. From this position, they were also able to shell the southern edge of Beirut. The situation was rather chaotic, and needed someone to bring the situation under control. That task was given to Brigadier Savige, of the 17th Brigade. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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