Sunday, October 18, 2015
General Dentz wants to stop fighting from 22 June 1941 until 12 July 1941
As early as 22 June 1941, General Dentz, the French commander in Lebanon and Syria, expected that his forces would be defeated. In France, on 28 June, Marshal Petain and Admiral Darlan agreed that they should stop fighting in Syria and Lebanon. At the time, though, they did not tell that to General Dentz. The next day, on 29 June, British bombers partly destroyed the General's residence in Beirut. General Dentz had already left the place prior to the bombing. Some French officers said that they should bomb the residence of the high commissioner in Jerusalem, but General Dentz was not prepared to bomb Jerusalem. By 30 June, General Lavarack sent a message to General Dentz, but he did not realize at the time that the British had bombed General Dentz's residence. After he found out about the bombing, he thought it had nullified his message. Palmyra was finally captured by 3 July. There was now nothing to stop an advance to Aleppo. By 8 July, General Dentz heard the news that his government was prepared to stop fighting. General Dentz sent a message to the British through the American Consul in Beirut. The British sent back a list of conditions under which they would agree to a cease fire. General Dentz then sent back a message that he agreed, with the cease-fire to happen at midnight on 11 July. The news was broadcast in Australia, which was a bad idea. General Lavarack sent an angry note to General Blamey. General Dentz replied to a wireless message from General Wilson with another wireless message. The French would stop fighting at 12:01am on 12 July 1941. The French envoys came to the Australian outpost on the road to Beirut, as requested. They were transported to Acre, where they met with General Wilson, General Lavarack, and General Catroux. They reached an agreement that allowed the Allies to occupy Syria and Lebanon. The French soldiers would be treated with full honors. They could keep their "personal weapons", but all other weapons would be stacked and controlled by the Allies. By midday on 15 July, the Australians moved forward to occupy the key locations in Syria and Lebanon. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.