Looking for infos on Australian and UK forces in Syria in 1941

#1
Anybody could point me in the right direction ? I would be interested by any infos explaining what units were facing the Vichy French, both from Australia and the UK and who did what in the Syria AOR during this most unfortunate campaign.

Thanks to all.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
Wiki is actually fairly reliable in this instance: Syria-Lebanon Campaign order of battle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This page mentions a Mech Regt of the Arab Legion as part of Habforce in central Syria, but I'm sure I've read there were other Arab Legion units also. Note too that the Aussie 7th Div had a joint Australian/Palmach (Jewish Palestine)/Arab recce outfit which Moshe Dayan was attached to and who he was with when he lost his eye to a Vichy sniper.
 
#4
Thank you very much for that, I think it will fit the bill just right !

As for Moshe Dayan, I had read a French source which claimed he had been hit by a 8 mm Hotchkiss MG manned by Senegalese Rifles, not a sniper. Not saying this is right, just for info's sake....
 
#5
A couple of interesting maps showing the two phases of the campaign





Source:

Smith, Colin. England's Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940-1942. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2009. ISBN 978-0-297-85218-6
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
Interesting too that the British didn't institute a separate campaign star for the Middle East or recognise service there in any of the other campaign stars. True, the campaign was short, but to give just one point - the Australians took almost as many KIA in those few months as they did during their involvement in Viet Nam. I've always wondered if it was a political thing i.e. fighting Frenchmen (albeit Vichy types) not something we wanted trumpeted.
 
#7
Interesting too that the British didn't institute a separate campaign star for the Middle East or recognise service there in any of the other campaign stars. True, the campaign was short, but to give just one point - the Australians took almost as many KIA in those few months as they did during their involvement in Viet Nam. I've always wondered if it was a political thing i.e. fighting Frenchmen (albeit Vichy types) not something we wanted trumpeted.
The Africa star was awarded to anyone who served in the Middle East or Africa. There was an 8th army clasp awearded to men who had serv ed in the 8th Army, but the fact that this was for service post El Alemein was a sore point at the time. When asked by Montgomery where he served in the Middle East before presenting him his MC, Robin Dunn, wounded in June 1942 claims to have said "before it was fashionable sir"
 
#8
The real question is 'which units scored the quadfecta?' Ie fought Germans, Italians, French and Japanese.

The follow up is did any get it in WW1 Ie Germans, Austro-Hungarians, Ottomans, Bulgarians.
 
#10
A couple of interesting maps showing the two phases of the campaign





Source:

Smith, Colin. England's Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940-1942. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2009. ISBN 978-0-297-85218-6
A particularly good book - and a great author, who I write to from time to time.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
The Africa star was awarded to anyone who served in the Middle East or Africa.
Not so. The Africa Star covered everything from the Straits of Gibraltar up to the Suez:
Awarded for service in North Africa, Abyssinia, Somaliland, Eritrea, Sudan, and Malta between 10th June 1940 and 12th May 1943 inclusive. Also any sea service in the Mediterranean counted for the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy. The qualifying period was one day.
Most British units, that served in the Levant (and Persia) went on to serve in other Star qualifying theatres, but those that were killed or made hors de combat there got no special recognition that had been in an overseas operational theatre.
 
#12
Thank you all for the very good inputs; I will forward that to an old gentleman who is currently trying to write a family history for his grand-children; his father took part in this campaign on the Vichy side.

As for decorations, the same policy applied to the Free French forces; de Gaulle refused to award Croix de Guerre to his troops for fighting other frenchmen....
 
#13
The real question is 'which units scored the quadfecta?' Ie fought Germans, Italians, French and Japanese.

The follow up is did any get it in WW1 Ie Germans, Austro-Hungarians, Ottomans, Bulgarians.
I think parts of the 6th Austrlian division fought against all four - 2/2 2/5 andf the divisional cavalry and pioneers?

It is doubtful whether there can be any formed British or Commonwealth unit which fought against all four central powers. There units which fought in Salonika and Palestine (against Turks and Bulgarians) and some which fought in France and Italy against Germans and Austro hungarians, but none that served in Salonika and Italy. ???
 
#15
Not so. The Africa Star covered everything from the Straits of Gibraltar up to the Suez:


Most British units, that served in the Levant (and Persia) went on to serve in other Star qualifying theatres, but those that were killed or made hors de combat there got no special recognition that had been in an overseas operational theatre.
Thanks - re-reading the source for the quote "Wig and sword" you would be awarded the Africa star for service in GHQ Cairo - West of the Canal.
 
#17
The relevant John Masters book is the second volume of his autobiography, The Road Past Mandalay.

Another relevant autobiography is Roald Dahl's Going Solo - he was a Hurricane pilot flying during the campaign, having been evacuated from Greece. But be warned, expresses very strong views on the Vichy personnel, who incurred his hatred for the death of his best friend.

For a history of the air campaign, can't do better than Dust Clouds in the Middle East. It also covers the campaign againts Vichy Madagascar.
 
#18
The relevant John Masters book is the second volume of his autobiography, The Road Past Mandalay.

Another relevant autobiography is Roald Dahl's Going Solo - he was a Hurricane pilot flying during the campaign, having been evacuated from Greece. But be warned, expresses very strong views on the Vichy personnel, who incurred his hatred for the death of his best friend.

For a history of the air campaign, can't do better than Dust Clouds in the Middle East. It also covers the campaign againts Vichy Madagascar.
Very good, thank you for all that.

As for strong views....they were strong views on both sides during those dark times.
 
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