Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Moving forward in the "Salient" in late June and early July 1941

There was a strange business, where the 2/13th Battalion was preparing positions that would only be occupied by the 2/15th Battalion. There was in addition, a misunderstanding about time, where the 2/13th Battalion men expected that the 2/15th Battalion would move in on the night of 24 June (or maybe not). In addition, the 2/15th Battalion would build a new position "on the left" and eventually move into it. During the evening on 22 June, a mine exploded and wounded men from the 2/15th Battalion. The next move was to send out men at 10pm, with sappers to clear the path. They had brought wire and other things out, but then at 1am, men from the 2/13th Battalion found a booby trap and took casualties. That explosion caused the Germans to open fire with machine guns. The firing continued as the men tried to work on the positions. The 2/15th Battalion also took casualties during the night.

Although the 2/13th Battalion men had worked all night, the positions were still incomplete. They positions were not dug deep enough and they still needed to have wire installed. The result was that the work was continued the next night. The roles would change with the 2/13th Battalion only providing "guidance" while the 2/15th Battalion men would do the work of preparing the positions. This is where a misunderstanding occurred. The men of the 2/13th Battalion still thought that the men of the 2/15th Battalion would move into the new positions at 4am on 24 June 1941. The plan, was in fact, to move in on the following night.

as men worked, another booby trap exploded, killing and wounding more men. This was followed by enemy mortar fire, which caused more casualties. The misunderstanding came to light at 3am when the 2/13th Battalion learned that the 2/15th Battalion would not move into the new positions until the next night. During the night of 24-25 June, the 2/15th Battalion moved in. Men from the 2/17th Battalion arrived in the location. They were to allow the 2/13th Battalion to be withdrawn into reserve for their brigade.

There was some discontent with moving so far forward that they were close to enemy positions. The alternative would have been to have kept a larger distance from the enemy and then aggressively patrol in the "no-man's land". The purpose of the move forward was to be able to control Post R8, Post S8, and "Forbes' Mound". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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