Monday, July 07, 2014

What the Attackers Faced in Syria in 1941

General Wavell would have not wanted to attack Syria so soon after Greece and Crete. His forces were in disarray and Syria might have been a tough region to take. Syrla was a fairly large area, stretching for some 300 miles both north and south and east and west. The French forces in Syrla and Lebanon were larger and were better equipped than any force that Wavell could field. The would-be occupiers would have to deal with mountains and deserts. The French General Headquarters was located in Beirut, Lebanon. A railroad ran from Beirut through to Damascus, Syria. The British would have to decide if they would go north along the coast, of if they would try the mountain roads, or if they would cut across the desert.

The defenders had six regiments, including a Foreign Legion unit. There was another mixed regiment of colonial and metropolitan troops. There were also four regiments of African native troops. Of the cavalry, there were 9,000 men, some of which were mechanized and some where on horseback. As for artillery, they had 90 field and medium guns. There were about 10,000 troops from Syria and Lebanon, but they were thought to be unreliable. General Dentz was the overall commander, with a deputy commander. There were also three regional commanders at Damascus, Beirut, and Aleppo. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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