Monday, April 27, 2015

The failed attack on Merdjayoun on 16 and 17 June 1941

Brigadier Berryman, in command in the Merdjayoun area, hoped to retake the place on 17 June 1941. The 2/25th Battalion was now in the area. He would have them cross the river and attack from the northwest. One company from the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion would attack from Qleaa. They would have another pioneer company ready to advance if they were successful. The Official History notes that the pioneers were ill-suited to fighting as infantry, as they were poorly equipped with infantry weapons. They had only been in North Africa and the Middle East since May and had only been employed doing engineer work. They plan for the attack now seems to be unrealistic for the available forces. The fort at Merdjayoun had walls so thick that 25-pounder shells could not damage them. After the dust settled, the pioneers had lost "27 killed, 46 wounded and 29 prisoners". The pioneers had run into strong opposition, including tanks. The 2/25th Battalion had to stop short of their position and there was no chance of a surprise attack. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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