Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Danger in the rear on 14 and 15 June 1941 in the east of Syria

Some 35 miles behind the front line on the road to Damascus on 14 and 15 June 1941, the commander, now Brigadier Lloyd, as we noted, was notified that on the afternoon of 14 June, two companies of Tunisian troops with armoured cars and artillery had driven out the Transjordan Frontier Force and had taken Ezraa. They were sitting on the road, as a blocking force. The Jordanians had moved to the "Ezraa-Sheikh Meskine" road. After that news, they heard of a French force moving on Kuneitra. Early on 15 June, this group had moved out from Sassa. The had forced back the advance group from the 1/Royal Fusiliers with a few armoured cars and carriers. There was grim news from 15 June that the Vichy French were sending a large force of infantry, tanks, and cavalry towards Kuneitra. The force of Free French and the Indian brigade had essentially bypassed this group on their advance towards Damascus. The bypassed force was now in position to threaten the rear of the troops moving towards Damascus. Brigadier Lloyd responded to the threat by dispatching a small battle group consisting of two Free French companies and some British artillery towards Sheikh Meskine. They were to hold the road near Sheikh Meskine. At noon on the 15th, Australian Tomahawks attacked Vichy French vehicles on the road also near Sheikh Meskine. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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