Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The new situation in Syria from 18 June 1941

The 5th Indian Brigade battalions were heavily engaged in battle at Mezze late on 18 June 1941. Also on 18 June, the 2/3rd Australian Battalion was boarding the train at Majdal, in Palestine. They were destined for Deraa in Syria. One of the battalion's companies had already been sent to Sidon, in Lebanon. They were survivors of the Greek and Crete battles, and more men were being taken. They were reduced to "21 officers and 385 men". The temperature was 130 degrees and the men were transported in cattle cars. They reached Khan Deinoun early on 20 June 1041. They were told that they were now in the 5th Indian Brigade. They were considered the "British battalion". They road on trucks to Mouadammiye. They were in position to the right of the Kuneitra road. They could hear the 1st Field Regiment battery firing. They were under Major Bourke's command and were part of the force hoping to relieve the two Indian battalions at Mezze. The dismal situation with the Free French on the road to Damscus was having an effect. The Free French were very unreliable and did not want to be fighting other Frenchmen. Part of the problem was that the Free French were mostly African colonials, with low marale. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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