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Whilst in Iraq, the Allied forces had been strafed by German and Italian planes which had used bases in the neighbouring country of Syria.

Syria was administered by the Vichy French and was supposed to be neutral.

In June 1941, two troops from 239 battery were sent back to assist an Allied force (which included Australians and the Free French) which invaded Syria from Palestine, whilst 237 battery was sent to attack Syria from the east.

It was thought that the French wouldn't offer any resistance against their former Allies.  In fact, they put up strong resistance. 

Everyone was a bit uneasy and unsure what to do.  Orders were given that French planes were not to be shot at unless they performed a hostile act. Expecting that they would just walk into a "Beau Geste" type fort at the old Roman town of Palmyra,  237 battery and a troop from 239 battery were strafed and bombed by French planes for 10 days. There was no air cover, and even the Bofors anti-aircraft guns had been left behind as no resistance had been expected. The heat was terrific (125 degrees F), no provision had been made for the wounded, the meagre supply of water was running out and there were flies everywhere.  But the 60th Field Regiment's guns kept on pounding the French fort until at last the garrison surrendered.

Immediately after the fort at Palmyra had fallen, 237 battery's guns were split into four pairs to support the Warwickshire Yeomanry and the Household Cavalry  to sweep a wide front to the west.  After a week, word came that there was a cease fire.

The French said that they regretted having to fight their former Allies and were relieved it was all over.  They claimed that the Germans had not been using bases in Syria.  But they hated the Free French and saw them as traitors.

The threat of the Germans occupying Syria had been eliminated and the oil pipe-line was now in British hands.  But there had been over 4,600 Allied killed or wounded and 6,500 French casualties in this little-known and regrettable episode of the war.

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The CO's truck after it had been strafed by French planes.

BQMS Barker, Battery Sergeant-Major "Smudger' Smith, Sgt Gray and Sgt Christopher in Syria.

Modest men do a spot of laundry in Syria.