Monday, September 28, 2015

The 6th Cavalry in action on 8 July 1941

On the morning of 8 July 1941, while the 2/16th Battalion was improving their situation on the ridges, more of the 6th Cavalry Regiment crossed the Damour River to join their other part. There were already three tanks (probably captured R-35's) on the north side. They were with two companies from the 2/2nd Pioneers. The Pioneers were now a mile north of the river. Progress had been halted by French fire and the threat of French 75mm guns covering the road. The squadron commander was angry about someone saying bad things about the cavalry being held up and ordered the three tanks forward, which was a bad idea. A tank came around the bend in the road and was hit by fire from a 75mm gun 300 yards away. A second tank came up in support. The damaged tank was set on fire. The crew abandoned the damaged tank and was picked up by the other tank. Lt. Macmeikan, of the 2/5th Field Regiment saw the gun flash and was able to knock it out by artillery fire. By 2pm, the decision was made to pull back and call in an artillery barrage. When the Pioneers pulled back, the French moved forward to be clear of the artillery fire. When the Pioneers attacked again during the night, they moved forward into part of the town. By morning on 9 July, the 6th Cavalry was able to drive through Damour. It was after this event that Brigadier Berryman had arrived and ordered men forward when he saw the situation. Brigadier Savige was put in charge to restore some order around Damour and beyond. During the afternoon on 9 July, men from the 2/27th found that the French had pulled out of Abey and Daqoun. In response, the 2/14th Battalion was ordered to move into Abey, Kafr Matta, and a hill between them. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official history.

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