Monday, March 02, 2015

The Vichy French forces attack in Syria and Lebanon on 14 to 15 June 1941

Along the Mediterranean coast, the Australians had advanced within thirty miles of Beirut. In the east, the attack at advanced to within 25 miles of Damascus. However, in between, near Merdjayoun, the attack had only moved forward some ten miles from the border. That left the French with a large area that intruded between the "British" forces. They were only nominally British, as there were mostly Australians, the 5th Indian Brigade, the Jordanians, and the Free French. The forces in before Damascus were in very strong positions. They had infantry positiones in an area where there were houses and gardens, with boulders along the Jebel el Kelb and Jebel Abou Atriz. That was on the east side of the road to Damascus. On the west side, there were the high ground at the Tel Kswe, Tel Afair, and Jevel Madani. This was an area with "lava boulders" that meant that wheeled and tracked vehicles were restricted to the roads.

With the Free French general, Legentilhomme wounded, Brigadier Lloyd was made commander in the east of the Free French and British force. A colonel, Colonel Jones, became the 5th Indian Brigade commander. Brigadier Lloyd planned an attack on 15 June, 1941, with the Free French marine battalion and the 5th Indian Brigade. The goal was to take "Moukelbe, Tel Kiswe, and the Kiswe village". This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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