Thursday, October 08, 2015

The attack on the heights at Badarane on 9 and 10 July 1941

Starting in the evening of 9 July 1941, a company from the 2/31st Battalion was ordered to take the heights at Badarane. This was especially challenging because there was a deep wadi between the Australians and the Badarane heights. They might have had support from their battalion carrier platoon and a troop from the 6th Cavalry, but there was a bridge out that blocked them from participating. The wadi was 800 feet deep. The heights were 600 feet above the wadi and were terraced. The attacking company had only some sixty men. The platoon leaders were a lieutenant and two sergeants. The men left Niha at 9pm on 9 July, which was about three miles away. They started out with four mules and their drivers, but they were left behind because the terrain was too difficult for mules. They had progressed to within 400 yards of Badarane by 2:30am on 10 July. They came under machine gun fire that was fired over their heads and was landing behind them. The company commander led his men to the left of the heights into olive trees. One man alone bayoneted the four defenders in one position. 43 Australians attacked and 13 were killed in the fight. They found some forth or fifty dead Senegalese soldiers. There were also many wounded that they took prisoner. There had been about 200 defenders of the heights when the Australians attacked. By 5am, the company had won the battle. They eventually got orders to destroy the French equipment and to withdraw back to the company headquarters. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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