Friday, September 18, 2015

Important actions from 7 July 1941 in the Damour battle

The 2/16th Battalion had a fairly quite day on 7 July 1941 in Lebanon. They found that the French had withdrawn from the El Atiqa ridge. The area had banana plantations and they were cleared. The engineers put a bridge over the river that allowed vehicles to cross. By afternoon, there were two companies of pioneers and three tanks in the plantation area.

In the 2/27th Battalion's area, the action heated up into an intense battle. The French had moved on the east slope of Hill 560. One company was sent to push the French off the hill. Captain Lee's company came under heavy fire and was stopped. After midnight, into 8 July, they had pushed close to the French. They thought that by daylight, the French would surrender. The battle continued and Captain Lee's headquarters came under attack at Er Roumane. The battalion commander committed just about his entire force into the battle. When they took some French prisoners, they learned that the attackers were from the I/French Foreign Legion and one company from the 29th Algerians. The Algerians had been shipped in from France in a roundabout route that came through Greece. Lt.Col. Moten, the commander, made his way forward with an artillery observer. He arrived with the forward troops at 5am on 8 July. They discovered that the French had withdrawn in the night. The attacking Australians had considerable losses, so that companies were now platoon-size. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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