Zahrani River

The Zahrani River was one of several encountered by Australian troops during their operations in Lebanon that ran through steep wadis and cut the coastal road, thus making them significant obstacles. As they had along most of these river barriers, the Vichy French had sited defences along the Zahrani. Overcoming these was vital for the Australians, not only to continue their advance up the coast, but also to take control of a road that ran inland along the Zahrani's south bank. Forming the advanced guard of the 21st Brigade, the 2/14th Brigade attacked the Zahrani defences on the morning of 11 June 1941. The battalion's original plan to mount a diversion with one company along the coast road, while another two cut the lateral road and sought to outflank the Vichy French to the east, went awry when one of the flanking companies was unable to move into place in time. The plan subsequently adopted lacked imagination and gave the battalion little chance of success. It attacked with two companies across the flat, open plains west of the coastal road and was stopped dead in its tracks by heavy machine gun fire and a counter-attack by Vichy tanks. The attack was renewed by the 2/27th Battalion the next day. Two companies were sent out to the east, outflanked the Vichy defences on the south bank of the Zahrani, and then managed to cross despite being subjected to heavy fire. They then proceeded to capture the defences overlooking the river taking 40 prisoners and a number of mortars and machine-guns. West of the coastal road, Australian artillery had driven the Vichy tanks back allowing the 2/27th's Carrier Platoon to drive along the beach and attack the Vichy position defending the road bridge from the flank. It was captured and held. By nightfall on 12 June, the Australian advance guard was 5 kilometers north of the Zahrani, heding for the key objective of Sidon.