Salòn rebublic

The Italian Social Republic (Italian: Repubblica Sociale Italiana, pronunciation: [reˈpubblika soˈt͡ʃale itaˈljana]; RSI), informally known as the Republic of Salò (Italian: Repubblica di Salò, [reˈpubblika di saˈlɔ]), was a German puppet state with limited recognition that was created during the later part of World War II, existing from the beginning of German occupation of Italy in September 1943 until the surrender of German troops in Italy in May 1945.

The Italian Social Republic was the second and last incarnation of the Italian Fascist state and was led by Duce Benito Mussolini and his reformed anti-monarchist Republican Fascist Party which tried to modernise and revise fascist doctrine into a more moderate and sophisticated direction. The state declared Rome its capital, but was de facto centered on Salò (hence its colloquial name), a small town on Lake Garda, near Brescia, where Mussolini and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were headquartered. The Italian Social Republic exercised nominal sovereignty in Northern and Central Italy, but was largely dependent on German troops to maintain control.

In July 1943, after the Allies had pushed Italy out of North Africa and subsequently invaded Sicily, the Grand Fascist Council—with the support of King Victor Emmanuel III—overthrew and arrested Mussolini. The new government began secret peace negotiations with the Allied powers. When the Armistice of Cassibile was announced 8 September, Germany was prepared and quickly intervened. Germany seized control of the northern half of Italy, freed Mussolini and brought him to the German-occupied area to establish a satellite regime. The Italian Social Republic was proclaimed on 23 September 1943. Although the RSI claimed most of the lands of Italy as rightfully belonging to it, it held political control over a vastly reduced portion of Italy. The RSI received diplomatic recognition from only Germany, Japan and their puppet states.

Around 25 April 1945, Mussolini's fascist republic collapsed. In Italy, this day is known as Liberation Day (festa della liberazione). On this day a general partisan uprising, alongside the efforts of Allied forces during their final offensive in Italy, managed to oust the Germans from Italy almost entirely. At the point of its demise, the Italian Social Republic had existed for slightly more than nineteen months. On 27 April, partisans caught Mussolini, his mistress (Clara Petacci), several RSI ministers and several other Italian Fascists while they were attempting to flee. On 28 April, the partisans shot Mussolini and most of the other captives. The RSI Minister of Defense Rodolfo Graziani surrendered what was left of the Italian Social Republic on 1 May, one day before that the German forces in Italy capitulated—this put a definitive end to the Italian Social Republic.

On 24 July 1943, after the Allied landings in Sicily on a motion by Dino Grandi the Grand Fascist Council voted a motion of no confidence in Mussolini. Mussolini's position had been undermined by a series of military defeats from the start of Italy's entry into the war in June 1940, including the bombing of Rome, the loss of the African colonies and the Allied invasions of Sicily and the southern Italian Peninsula.

The next day, King Victor Emmanuel III dismissed Mussolini from office and ordered him arrested. By this time, the monarchy, a number of Fascist government members and the general Italian population had grown tired of the futile war effort which had driven Italy into subordination and subjugation under Nazi Germany. The failed war effort left Mussolini humiliated at home and abroad as a "sawdust Caesar". Under Marshal Pietro Badoglio, the new government began secret negotiations with the Allied powers and made preparations for the capitulation of Italy. These surrender talks implied a commitment from Badoglio not only to leave the Axis alliance, but also to have Italy declare war on Germany.

While the Germans formally recognised the new status quo in Italian politics, they intervened by sending some of the best units of the Wehrmacht to Italy. This was done both to resist new Allied advances and to face the predictably imminent defection of Italy. While Badoglio continued to swear loyalty to Germany and the Axis powers, Italian government emissaries prepared to sign an armistice at Cassibile in Allied-occupied Sicily, which was finalized on 3 September.

On 8 September, Badoglio announced Italy's armistice with the Allies (although termed an "armistice", its terms made it akin to an unconditional surrender). German Führer Adolf Hitler and his staff, long aware of the negotiations, acted immediately by ordering German troops to seize control of Northern and Central Italy. The Germans disarmed the Italian troops and took over all of the Italian Army's materials and equipment. The Germans also dissolved the Italian occupation zone in southeastern France and forced Italian troops stationed there to leave. The Italian armed forces were not given clear orders to resist the Germans following the armistice and so resistance to the German takeover was scattered and of little effect. King Victor Emmanuel made no effort to rally resistance to the Germans, instead fleeing with his retinue to the safety of the Allied lines.

The new Italian government had moved Mussolini from place to place while he was in captivity in an attempt to foil any attempts at rescue. Despite this, the Germans eventually pinpointed Mussolini at the Campo Imperatore Hotel at Gran Sasso. On 12 September, Mussolini was liberated by the Germans in Operation Eiche in the mountains of Abruzzo, while the Italian carabinieri were allegedly placed under orders to not fire their weapons at the raiders, rendering them defenseless. After being liberated, Mussolini was flown to Bavaria. Gathering what support he still had among the Italian population, his liberation made it possible for a new German-dependent Fascist Italian state to be created.
Three days following his rescue in the Gran Sasso raid, Mussolini was taken to Germany for a meeting with Hitler in Rastenburg at his East Prussian headquarters. While Mussolini was in poor health and wanted to retire, Hitler wanted him to return to Italy and set up a new Fascist state. When Mussolini balked, Hitler threatened to destroy Milan, Genoa and Turin unless he went along. Reluctantly, Mussolini agreed to Hitler's demands.

The Italian Social Republic was proclaimed on 23 September, with Mussolini as both head of state and prime minister. The RSI claimed Rome as its capital, but the de facto capital became the small town of Salò on Lake Garda, midway between Milan and Venice, where Mussolini resided along with the foreign office of the RSI. While Rome itself was still under Axis control at the time, given the city's proximity to Allied lines and the threat of civil unrest, neither the Germans nor Mussolini himself wanted him to return to Rome.

On 18 September, Mussolini made his first public address to the Italian people since his rescue, in which he commended the loyalty of Hitler as an ally while condemning Victor Emmanuel for betraying Italian Fascism. He declared: "It is not the regime that has betrayed the monarchy, it is the monarchy that has betrayed the regime". He also formally repudiated his previous support of the monarchy, saying: "When a monarchy fails in its duties, it loses every reason for being...The state we want to establish will be national and social in the highest sense of the word; that is, it will be Fascist, thus returning to our origins".

From the start, the Italian Social Republic was little more than a puppet state dependent entirely upon Germany. Mussolini himself knew this; even as he stated in public that he was in full control of the RSI, he was well aware that he was little more than the Gauleiter of Lombardy. The RSI had no constitution or organized economy, and its financing was dependent entirely on funding from Berlin.[9] German forces themselves had little respect for Mussolini's failed fascist movement, and saw the regime merely as a tool for maintaining order, such as repressing the Italian partisans. This work was also carried out by the infamous Pietro Koch and the Banda Koch on Germany's behalf.

The RSI received diplomatic recognition from only Germany, Japan and their puppet states. Even the otherwise sympathetic Spain refused to establish formal diplomatic relations with the RSI.

The RSI took revenge against the 19 members who had voted against Mussolini on the Grand Council with the Verona trial (processo di Verona) which handed down a death sentence to all of the accused but one. Only six of the 19 were in RSI custody (Giovanni Marinelli, Carlo Pareschi, Luciano Gottardi, Tullio Cianetti, Emilio De Bono and Mussolini's own son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano). They (except for Tullio Cianetti who got a life sentence) were all executed on 11 January 1944 in the fort of San Procolo in Verona.

Territorial losses
The changing political and military situation re-opened questions regarding the status of Italian territories, particularly those with German-speaking majorites that were formerly under Austrian rule. Previously, Hitler had vigorously suppressed any campaigning for the return of lands such as South Tyrol in order to maintain good relations with his Italian ally. In the aftermath of the Kingdom of Italy's abandonment of the Axis on 8 September 1943, Germany seized and de facto incorporated some Italian territories. On the other hand, Hitler refused to officially annex South Tyrol in spite of urging by local German officials and instead supported having the RSI hold official sovereignty over these territories and forbade all measures that would give the impression of official annexation of South Tyrol. 

However, in practice the territory of South Tyrol within the boundaries defined by Germany as Operationszone Alpenvorland that included Trento, Bolzano and Belluno were de facto incorporated into Germany's Reichsgau Tirol-Vorarlberg and administered by its Gauleiter Franz Hofer. The region identified by Germany as Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland that included Udine, Gorizia, Trieste, Pola and Fiume were de facto incorporated into Reichsgau Kärnten and administered by its Gauleiter Friedrich Rainer.

On 10 September 1943, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) declared that the Treaties of Rome of 18 May 1941 with the Kingdom of Italy were null and void and annexed the portion of Dalmatia that had been annexed from Yugoslavia to the Kingdom of Italy in the Treaties of Rome. The NDH attempted to annex Zara that had been a recognized territory of Italy since 1919, but Germany did not allow the NDH to do so. Because of these actions by the NDH, the RSI held the NDH in contempt and refused to have diplomatic relations with the NDH or to recognize its territorial claims

After the Italian capitulation, the Italian Aegean Islands were occupied by the Germans (see Dodecanese campaign). During the German occupation, the islands remained under the nominal sovereignty of the RSI, but were de facto subject to the German military command.

The Italian concession of Tientsin in China was ceded by the RSI to the Japanese puppet Wang Jingwei regime.
During the existence of the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini, whose government had banned trade unions and strikes, began to make increasingly populist appeals to the working class. He claimed to regret many of the decisions made earlier in supporting the interests of big business and promised a new beginning, if the Italian people would be willing to grant him a second chance. Mussolini claimed that he had never totally abandoned his left-wing influences, insisting he had attempted to nationalize property in 1939–1940, but had been forced to delay such action for tactical reasons related to the war. With the removal of the monarchy, Mussolini claimed the full ideology of Fascism could be pursued and to gain popular support reversed over twenty years of Fascist support of private property and relative economic independence by ordering the nationalization of all companies with over 100 employees.

 Mussolini even reached out to ex communist Nicola Bombacci to help him in spreading the image that Fascism was a progressive movement. The economic policy of the RSI was given the name "Socialization" and Mussolini had even considered the idea of calling his new republic the “Italian ‘Socialist’ Republic”. In practice, little resulted from the declared socialization of the economy. Unions did not exert real control of their management and took no part in state planning (as they had the power to do on paper after the socialization). The Italian industrial sector was excluded from the new reforms by the Germans and Italian industrialists were opposed to the changes in any case. The Italian labor force (large parts of which had remained leftist despite fascist rule) regarded socialization as a sham and responded with a massive strike on 1 March 1944.

In Greece, while the government of the Kingdom of Italy surrendered and many Italian soldiers in the Aegean were tired of the war and had become opposed to Mussolini, Italian Fascist loyalists remained allied to Germany in the Greek campaign. In September 1943, General Mario Soldarelli rallied Fascist Blackshirts and Italian soldiers loyal to Mussolini to continue the war, along with military men who felt it was dishonorable to turn on an ally and with those who had developed comradely feelings toward the Germans. German forces in Greece convinced 10,000 Italians in the Aegean to continue to support their war effort.

In 1944, Mussolini urged Hitler to focus on destroying Britain rather than the Soviet Union, as Mussolini claimed that it was Britain which had turned the conflict into a world war and that the British Empire must be destroyed in order for peace to come in Europe. Mussolini wanted to conduct a small offensive along the Gothic Line against the Allies with his new RSI Divisions; in December 1944, the Alpine Division "Monte Rosa" with some German battalions fought the Battle of Garfagnana with some success. As the situation became desperate with Allied forces in control of most of Italy and from February 1945 resumed to pushing the Axis forces to North of Gothic Line, Mussolini declared that "he would fight to the last Italian" and spoke of turning Milan into the "Stalingrad of Italy", where Fascism would make its last glorious fight. 

                  File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-567-1503A-07, Gran Sasso, Mussolini mit deutschen Fallschirmjägern.jpg
Benito Mussolini rescued by German troops from his prison in Campo Imperatore on 12 September 1943

Despite such strong rhetoric, Mussolini considered evacuating Fascists into Switzerland, although this was opposed by Germany, which instead proposed that Mussolini and key Fascist officials be taken into exile in Germany.

Further disintegration of support for his government occurred as fascist and German military officials secretly tried to negotiate a truce with Allied forces, without consulting either Mussolini or Hitler.
RSI military formations
Women volunteers served in uniform as noncombatants in paramilitary units and police formations (Servizio Ausiliario Femminile). The commander was the brigadier general Piera Gatteschi Fondelli.

Smaller units like the Black Brigades (Brigate nere) led by Alessandro Pavolini and the Decima Flottiglia MAS led by Junio Valerio Borghese (called "principe nero", the Black Prince) fought for the RSI during its entire existence. The Germans were satisfied if these units were able to participate in anti-partisan activities. While varying in their effectiveness, some of these units surpassed expectations.

In March 1944, the bulk of the 1st Italian volunteers Storm Brigade were sent to the Anzio beachhead where they fought alongside their German allies, receiving favorable reports and taking heavy losses. In recognition of their performance, Heinrich Himmler declared the unit to be fully integrated into the Waffen SS.

On 16 October 1943, the Rastenburg Protocol was signed with Nazi Germany and the RSI was allowed to raise division-sized military formations. This protocol allowed Marshal Rodolfo Graziani to raise four RSI divisions totalling 52,000 men. In July 1944, the first of these divisions completed training and was sent to the front.

Recruiting military forces was difficult for the RSI as most of the Italian Army had been interned by German forces in 1943, many military-aged Italians had been conscripted into forced labour in Germany and few wanted to participate in the war. The RSI became so desperate for soldiers that it granted convicts freedom, if they would join the army and the sentence of death was imposed on anyone who opposed being conscripted. Autonomous military forces in the RSI also fought against the Allies including the notorious Decima Flottiglia MAS of Prince Junio Valerio Borghese. Borghese held no allegiance to Mussolini and even suggested that he would take him prisoner if he could.

During the winter of 1944–1945, armed Italians were on both sides of the Gothic Line. On the Allied side were four Italian groups of volunteers from the old Italian army. These Italian volunteers were equipped and trained by the British. On the Axis side were four RSI divisions. Three of the RSI divisions, the 2nd Italian "Littorio" Infantry Division, the 3rd Italian "San Marco" Marine Division and the 4th Italian Monterosa Alpine Division were allocated to the LXXXXVII "Liguria" Army under Graziani and were placed to guard the western flank of the Gothic Line facing France. The fourth RSI division, the 1st Italian "Italia" Infantry Division, was attached to the German 14th Army in a sector of the Apennine Mountains thought least likely to be attacked.

On 26 December 1944, several sizeable RSI military units, including elements of the 4th Italian "Monterosa Division" Alpine Division and the 3rd Italian "San Marco" Marine Division, participated in Operation Winter Storm. This was a combined German and Italian offensive against the 92nd Infantry Division. The battle was fought in the Apennines. While limited in scale, this was a successful offensive and the RSI units did their part.

The RSI military was under the command of General Alfredo Guzzoni while Field Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, the former governor-general of Italian Libya, was the RSI's Minister of Defense and commander-in-chief of the German Army Group Liguria. Mussolini, as Duce and head of state of RSI assumed supreme command over all military forces of the RSI.

In February 1945, the 92nd Infantry Division again came up against RSI units. This time it was Bersaglieri of the 1st Italian "Italia" Infantry Division. The Italians successfully halted the United States division's advance.

However, the situation continued to deteriorate for the Axis forces on Gothic Line.[30] By mid-April, the final Allied offensive in Italy had led German defenses to collapse. In the end of that month, the last remaining troops of RSI were bottled up along with two Wehrmacht Divisions at Collecchio by 1st Brazilian Division being forced to surrender after some days of fighting.

On 29 April, Graziani surrendered and was present at Caserta when a representative of German General Heinrich von Vietinghoff-Scheel signed the unconditional instrument of surrender for all Axis forces in Italy, but since the Allies had never recognised the RSI Graziani's signature was not required at Caserta.[34] The surrender was to take effect on 2 May; Graziani ordered the RSI forces under his command to lay down their arms on 1 May.
The National Republican Air Force ( Aeronautic Nazionale Repubblicana or ANR) was the air force of Italian Social Republic and also the air unit of National Republican Army in World War II. Its tactical organization was: 3 Fighter Groups, 1 Air Torpedo Bomber Group, 1 Bomber Group and other Transport and minor units. The ANR worked closely with German Air Force (Luftwaffe) in Northern Italy, even if the Germans unsuccessfully tried to disband the ANR forcing its pilots to enlist in the Luftwaffe.

                  Kuvahaun tulos haulle rsi National Republican Air Force
                        RSI  Red Devils

                  Kuvahaun tulos haulle rsi National Republican Air Force

In 1944, after the withdrawal of all German fighter units in the attempt to stop the increased Allied offensive on the German mainland, ANR fighter groups were left alone and heavily outnumbered to face the massive Allied air offensive over Northern Italy. In the operation time of 1944 and 1945, the ANR managed to shoot down 262 Allied aircraft with the loss of 158 in action.
Little of the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) joined the RSI. This was because the bulk of the Italian navy was ordered to steam to Malta at the time of the armistice, out of reach of the Germans and the RSI. The RSI's National Republican Navy (Marina Nazionale Repubblicana or MNR) only reached a twentieth the size of the co-belligerent Italian fleet. The RSI Navy largely consisted of nine motor torpedo boats (two large and seven small), dozens of MTSM small motor torpedo boats and MTM explosive motorboats. The National Republican Navy also operated fifteen CB-class midget submarines (ten in the Adriatic and five in the Black Sea) and one larger submarine, CM1.

                  Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
                  Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
Troops of the Decima Flottiglia MAS (elite Italian frogman corps) fought primarily as a land unit of the RSI.

Some of the naval personnel at the BETASOM submarine base in Bordeaux remained loyal to Mussolini.
The fall of the Fascist regime in Italy and the disbandment of the MVSN saw the establishment of the Republican National Guard (Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana or GNR), the Republican Police Corps (Corpo di Polizia Repubblicana) and the emergence of the Black Brigades (brigate nere). The GNR consisted of former MVSN, carabinieri, soldiers, Italian Africa Police and others still loyal to the Fascist cause, while the Republican Police Corps was the successor agency of the Public security complex formed by the Directorate of Public Security and the Public Security Agents Corps. 
The Black Brigade was formed from the new fascist party members both young and old. Both units fought alongside Nazi and Schutzstaffel (SS) counterparts in an extensive anti partisan war. The Black Brigades committed many atrocities in their fight against the Italian resistance movement and political enemies. On 15 August 1944, the GNR became a part of the Army.
In post-war Italian politics
While the RSI supported Nazi Germany, it allowed the Italian Fascist movement to build a completely totalitarian state. During the preceding twenty years of Fascist association with the Savoy monarchy of the Kingdom of Italy, the Fascists had been restricted in some of their actions by the monarchy. The formation of the RSI allowed Mussolini to at last be the official head of an Italian state and it allowed the Fascists to return to their earlier republic stances. Most prominent figures of post-war Italian far-right politics (parliamentary or extraparliamentary) were in some way associated with the experience of the RSI. Among them were Filippo Anfuso, Pino Romualdi, Rodolfo Graziani, Junio Valerio Borghese, Licio Gelli and Giorgio Almirante.

A number of postage stamps were issued by the Republic of Salò: first Italian issues were overprinted with a fasces and later locally produced ones were made.
                 Tiedosto: Italian sosiaalihallinto 1943 Map.png
Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1975 film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom is an adaptation of Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom, set in the Republic of Salò instead of 18th century France. It uses the source material as an allegory; the atrocities in the movie did not actually happen, while most of the choices of milieus, clothing, uniforms, weapons and other details are historically correct.

Roberto Benigni's 1997 Life is Beautiful is also set in the Republic of Salò. Bernardo Bertolucci's 1976 Novecento set his story in Emilia, being at the time a province of the Italian Social Republic, even though this is never mentioned in the movie. Wild Blood tells the true story of the Fascist film stars Luisa Ferida and Osvaldo Valenti and their support for the Republic.

Futurist writer/poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, a Mussolini loyalist who had helped shape Fascist philosophy, remained in the RSI as a propagandist until his death from a heart attack at Bellagio in December, 1944.


For Sale T-34-85

The sold T-34-85 has been driven into its current position, but the switched gear and brakes are on. 
There is no knowledge of the fitness for work and fitness is satisfactory.

                   Panssarivaunu T3798-4
Price 15.000€
The sale also includes anti-aircraft, field and armor cartridges


Syria–Lebanon campagni

The Syria–Lebanon campagni, also known as Operation Exporter, was the British invasion of Vichy French Syria and Lebanon from June–July 1941, during the Second World War. The French had ceded autonomy to Syria in September 1936, with the right to maintain armed forces and two airfields in the territory.

On 1 April 1941, the 1941 Iraqi coup d'état had taken place and Iraq had come under the control of Iraqi nationalists led by Rashid Ali, who appealed for German support. The Anglo-Iraqi War (2–31 May 1941) led to the overthrow of the Ali regime and the installation of a British puppet government. 

The British invaded Syria and Lebanon in June, to prevent Nazi Germany from using the Vichy French -controlled Syrian Republic and French Lebanon as bases for attacks on the Kingdom of Egypt, during an invasion scare in the aftermath of the German victories in the Battle of Greece (6–30 April 1941) and the Battle of Crete (20 May – 1 June). In the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) in North Africa, the British were preparing Operation Battleaxe to relieve the Siege of Tobruk and were fighting the East African Campaign (10 June 1940 – 27 November 1941) in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The Vichy French made a vigorous defence of Syria; but, on 10 July, as the 21st Australian Brigade was on the verge of entering Beirut, the French sought an armistice. At one minute past midnight on 12 July, a ceasefire came into effect and ended the campaign. The Armistice of Saint Jean d'Acre (Convention of Acre) was signed on 14 July at the Sidney Smith Barracks on the outskirts of the city . Time magazine referred to the fighting as a "mixed show" while it was taking place and the campaign remains little known, even in the countries that took part. 

There is evidence that the British censored reportage of the fighting because politicians believed that hostilities against French forces could have a negative effect on public opinion in English-speaking countries.

In May 1941, Admiral François Darlan on behalf of Vichy France signed the Paris Protocols, an agreement with the Germans. The protocols granted Germany access to military facilities in Vichy-controlled Syria. The protocols remained unratified, but Charles Huntziger, the Vichy Minister of War, sent orders to Henri Dentz, the High Commissioner for the Levant , to allow aircraft of the German Luftwaffe and Italian Regia Aeronautica to refuel in Syria. 

Marked as Iraqi aircraft, Axis aircraft under Fliegerführer Irak landed in Syria, en route to the Kingdom of Iraq during the Anglo-Iraqi War. The Germans also requested permission from the Vichy authorities to use Syrian railways to send armaments to Iraqi nationalists in Mosul. General Archibald Percival Wavell, the Commander-in-Chief of Middle East Command, was reluctant to intervene in Syria, despite government prodding, because of the situation in the Western Desert, the imminent German attack on Crete and doubts about Free French pretensions.
Syria–Lebanon campaign
Part of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre of the Second World War
Australian troops among the ruins of the old Crusader castle at Sidon , Lebanon, July 1941
Date8 June – 14 July 1941
LocationSyria and Lebanon
ResultAllied victory
Syria and Lebanon taken over by Free France
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Archibald Wavell
United Kingdom Henry Maitland Wilson
Australia John Lavarack
Free France Paul Legentilhomme
Czechoslovakia Karel Klapálek
Vichy France Henri Dentz
~34,000 troops
50+ aircraft
landing ship
8 destroyers
45,000 troops
90 tanks
289 aircraft
3 submarines
Casualties and losses
c. 4,652
Australian: 1,552
Free French: c. 1,300
British and Indian: 1,800, 1,200 POW, 3,150 sick
27 aircraft
6,352 (Vichy figures)
8,912 (British figures)
179 aircraft
1 submarine sunk
5,668 defectors
Vichy Syria
Dentz was Commander in Chief of the Armée du Levant (Army of the Levant), which had regular metropolitan colonial troops and troupes spéciales (special troops, indigenous Syrian and Lebanese soldiers). There were seven infantry battalions of regular French troops at his disposal, which included the 6th Infantry Regiment of the French Foreign Legion, the 24th Colonial Infantry Regiment and eleven infantry battalions of "special troops", including at least 5,000 cavalry in horsed and motorized units, two artillery groups and supporting units. The Vichy garrison numbered 45,000 troops, comprising 35,000 regulars including 8,000 French and 10,000 Syrian and Lebanese infantry. The French had 90 tanks (according to British estimates), the Armée de l'Air de Vichy (Vichy French Air Force) had 90 aircraft (increasing to 289 aircraft after reinforcement) and the Marine Nationale (French Navy) had two destroyers, Guépard and Valmy, and three submarines.

                      Tiedosto: Captured French Martin 167F Aleppo 1941.jpg
                             Captured French Martin 167F Aleppo 1941

On 14 May 1941, a British Bristol Blenheim bomber crew, flying a reconnaissance mission over Palmyra in central Syria, spotted a Junkers Ju 90 transport taking off, with more German and Italian aircraft seen later that day; an attack on the airfield was authorised later that evening. Attacks against German and Italian aircraft staging through Syria continued and the British claimed six Axis aircraft destroyed by 8 June. Vichy French forces claimed to have shot down a Blenheim on 28 May and to have forced down another on 2 June. The RAF shot down a Vichy Martin 167F bomber over the British Mandate of Palestine on 6 June. While German interest in the French mandates of Syria and Lebanon was limited, Adolf Hitler permitted reinforcement of the French troops, by allowing French aircraft en route from Algeria to Syria to fly over Axis-controlled territory and refuel at the German-controlled Eleusina air base in Greece. The activity of German aircraft based in Greece and the Dodecanese Islands was interpreted by the British as support for Vichy troops, but although Dentz briefly considered accepting German assistance, he rejected the offer on 13 June. 

                      Henkilön World War II Day by Day kuva.
The Allied advance continues to make good progress. Tyre, Marjayoun and El Quneitra are all taken in the advance from Palestine. In the drive from Transjordan Dera'a is taken. There is a naval battle off the Syrian coast between forces which eventually include four British and two Vichy destroyers. The French are forced to retire but inflict some damage. A commando raid fails to take an important bridge over the Litani River.
Palestine and Iraq 
The British invasion of Syria and Lebanon aimed at preventing Nazi Germany from using the Vichy French-controlled Syrian Republic and French Lebanon for attacks on Egypt as the British fought the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) against Axis forces in North Africa. Although the French had ceded autonomy to Syria in September 1936, they had retained treaty rights to maintain armed forces and two airfields in the territory. From 1 April 1941, after a coup d'état, Iraq , on the eastern border of Syria, came under the control of nationalists led by Rashid Ali who were willing to appeal for German support. The Anglo-Iraqi War (2–31 May 1941) led to the installation of a pro-British government.

British forces to the south of Syria in Mandate Palestine were under the command of General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson and consisted of the 7th Australian Division (minus the 18th Brigade, which was in North Africa, besieged at Siege of Tobruk), Gentforce with two Free French brigades of the 1st Free French Division (including two battalions of the 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade attached to the 1st Free French Brigade) and the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade (4th Indian Infantry Division) with artillery, engineers and other support services attached to form the 5th Indian Brigade Group. In northern and central Syria, Iraq Command (Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Quinan ) was used in this campaign to attack from the east, consisting of the 10th Indian Infantry Division , elements of the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade ( 8th Indian Infantry Division ) and Habforce , the 4th Cavalry Brigade and the Arab Legion , under John Glubb (Glubb Pasha). Commando and raiding operations were undertaken by No. 11 (Scottish) Commando from Cyprus, as well as Palmach paramilitary and Mista'arvim squads from Mandatory Palestine. 

Air support was provided by squadrons from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF); ground forces on the coast were supported by bombardments from Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) units of the Mediterranean Fleet. At the beginning, Air Commodore LO Brown, the Air officer commanding (AOC) HQ RAF Palestine and Transjordan had the understrength 11 Squadron ( Bristol Blenheim Mk IV), 80 Squadron, re-equipping with Hawker Hurricanes, 3 Squadron RAAF, converting to Curtiss Tomahawks, 208 (Army Co-operation) Squadron with a flight of Hurricanes and X Flight ( Gloster Gladiators ). A detachment of Fleet Air Arm (FAA) 815 Naval Air Squadron (Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers) in Cyprus and 84 Squadron (Blenheims) in Iraq were to co-operate. 

British forces in reserve included the 6th Infantry Division (with the Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion–East attached to the 23rd Infantry Brigade) and the 17th Australian Brigade. In mid-June, the division with its two infantry brigades came into the line as reinforcements, mainly on the Damascus front and the southern force was placed under the command of the 1st Australian Corps on 19 June. At the beginning of Operation Exporter, the British and Commonwealth force consisted of about 34,000 men (18,000 Australians, 9,000 British, 2,000 Indian and 5,000 Free French troops). The RAF and RAAF had about 50 aircraft and the navy contributed the landing ship HMS Glengyle, five cruisers and eight destroyers.

British plan of attack 
The British plan of attack devised by Wilson called for four lines of invasion, on Damascus and Beirut from Palestine, on northern Syria and Palmyra (in central Syria) from Iraq and Tripoli (in northern Lebanon) also from Iraq. The 5th Indian Brigade Group ( Brigadier Wilfrid Lewis Lloyd ) was ordered to cross the Syrian border from Palestine and take Quneitra and Deraa . It was anticipated that this would open the way for the 1st Free French Division to advance to Damascus. Four days after the commencement of the operation, this force was brought under unified command and was named Gentforce after its French commander, Major-General Paul Louis Le Gentilhomme. 

                      Henkilön World War II Day by Day kuva.
June 13, 1941 Syria 
Vichy French troops held up the Australian 7th Division at Jezzine in southern French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon. 
Australian Private James Gordon won the Victoria Cross medal for single-handedly neutralizing a French machine gun post while fighting in the French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon.


The 7th Australian Division (Major-General John Lavarack (succeeded by Major-General Arthur "Tubby" Allen on 18 June when Lavarack took over Australian I Corps ) advanced from Palestine along the coastal road from Haifa towards Beirut.  The Australian 21st Brigade was to take Beirut, advancing along the coast from Tyre , over the Litani River towards Sidon. The Australian 25th Brigade was to attack the large Vichy French airbase at Rayak , advancing along a route further inland from the 21st Brigade.  The operation was also to include a supporting commando landing from Cyprus at the south of the Litani River. 

Once the two southern prongs were well engaged, it was planned that a third force, comprising formations drawn from Iraq Command , would invade Syria. The bulk of the 10th Indian Infantry Division (Major-General William "Bill" Slim) was to advance north-west up the Euphrates River from Haditha in Iraq (upstream from Baghdad), toward Deir ez Zor and thence to Raqqa and Aleppo . The manoeuvre was intended to threaten the communication and supply lines of Vichy forces defending Beirut against the Australians advancing from the south, in particular the railway line running northwards through Aleppo to Turkey (Turkey was thought by some British strategists to be sympathetic to Vichy and to Germany).  

A group comprising two infantry battalions from the 20th Indian Infantry Brigade (10th Indian Division) and two from the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade (8th Indian Infantry Division), would operate independently, to capture all the territory in north-east Syria. 

The 20th Indian Infantry Brigade were to make a feint from Mosul and the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade would advance into the Bec du Canard (Duck's Bill) region, through which a railway from Aleppo ran eastward to Mosul and Baghdad. Habforce was in Iraq attached to Iraq Command , because it had previously struck across the desert from the Transjordan border as part of the relief of RAF Habbaniya during the Anglo-Iraqi War.  Habforce comprised the 4th Cavalry Brigade, the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment and the Arab Legion Mechanized Regiment, supported by field, anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery units, to gather in western Iraq between Rutbah and the Transjordan border.  At the same time as the thrust up the Euphrates, Habforce would advance in a north-westerly direction to take Palmyra in Syria and secure the oil pipeline from Haditha to Tripoli.
War in the air 
The initial advantage that the Vichy French Air Force (Armée de l'Air de Vichy) enjoyed did not last long. The Vichy French lost most of their aircraft destroyed on the ground where the flat terrain, the absence of infrastructure and the absence of modern anti-aircraft (AA) artillery made them vulnerable to air attacks. On 26 June, a strafing run by Tomahawks of 3 Squadron RAAF, on Homs airfield, destroyed five Dewoitine D.520s of Fighter Squadron II/3 ( Groupe de Chasse II/3 ) and damaged six more. 

On 10 July, five D.520s attacked Bristol Blenheim bombers of 45 Squadron RAF, which were being escorted by seven Australian Tomahawks from 3 Squadron. The French pilots claimed three Blenheims but at least four D.520s were destroyed by the Australians.  The following day, a Dewoitine pilot shot down a Tomahawk from 3 Squadron, the only one lost during the campaign. By the end of the campaign, the Vichy forces had lost 179 aircraft from about 289 committed to the Levant, with remaining aircraft with the range to do so evacuating to Rhodes.

War at sea 
The war at sea was not a major part of Operation Exporter, although some significant actions were fought. During the Battle of the Litani River , rough seas kept commandos from landing along the coast on the first day of battle. On 9 June 1941, the French destroyers Valmy and Guépard fired on the advancing Australians at the Litani River before being driven off by shore-based artillery-fire. The French destroyers then exchanged fire with the British destroyer HMS Janus. The New Zealand light cruiser HMNZS Leander came to the aid of Janus along with six British destroyers and the French retired. The Luftwaffe attempted to come to the aid of the French naval forces on 15 June. Junkers Ju 88s of II./LG 1 (2nd Group, Lehrgeschwader 1), attacked British warships forces off the Syrian coast and hit the destroyers HMS Ilex and Isis. That evening, French aircraft of the 4th Naval Air Group bombed British naval units off the Syrian coast. 

Hammana, September 1941. With terrain typical of the region in the background, Maj. Gen. AS Allen (centre), commander of the Australian 7th Division, inspects some of his men. British Commonwealth units garrisoned Lebanon and Syria for several months, following the end of the campaign. (Photographer: Frank Hurley.)
On 16 June, British torpedo aircraft sank the French destroyer Chevalier Paul, which had been en route from Toulon to Syria, carrying ammunition from Metropolitan France. The following day, British bombers attacked another French destroyer in the port of Beirut which was also carrying ammunition. 

On the night of 22/23 June, Guépard fought a brief engagement with two British cruisers and six destroyers off of the Syrian coast, before the French destroyer retired under the cover of darkness. The French suffered further losses on 25 June, when the British submarine HMS Parthian torpedoed and sank the French submarine Souffleur off the Syrian coast; shortly afterwards, the French tanker Adour , which was carrying the entire fuel supply for the French forces in the Middle East, was attacked by British torpedo aircraft and badly damaged. 

On 10 July, as the Australian 21st Brigade was on the verge of entering Beirut, Dentz sought an armistice. At one minute past midnight on 12 July, a ceasefire came into effect and ended the campaign. The Armistice of Saint Jean d'Acre (also known as the "Convention of Acre") was signed on 14 July at the Sidney Smith Barracks on the outskirts of the city of Acre.
Wavell had not wanted the Syrian distraction when British forces in the Mediterranean were overstretched and the promenade guaranteed by the Free French appeared to be a false promise. Churchill and the CIGS forced the campaign on Wavell and when Vichy forces defended Syria, the British forces needed reinforcement, which could only be provided piecemeal. Many of the British and Commonwealth troops were novices and the hot, dry and mountainous terrain was a severe test, in which Indian Army units excelled. The Australian contingent had to cope with the worst country but conducted the most effective attack, "with a good plan carried through with great determination". The achievement of air superiority was delayed by the lack of aircraft but the urgency of the situation made it impossible for the naval and ground forces to wait. 

Vichy French airmen concentrated their attacks on ships and ground targets, which were highly effective until they were forced to move north. The scare caused by the German success in Crete had been exaggerated because the German parachute and glider invasion of Crete had been costly and there was little chance of the Germans gaining a bridgehead in Syria. The Germans withdrew from Syria to preserve their forces and to deprive the British of a pretext for invasion. The British invaded Syria anyway and took over naval and air bases far north of Suez and increased the safety of the oil route from Basra to Baghdad in Iraq to Haifa in Palestine. 

In August, the Vichy authorities announced 6,352 casualties of whom 521 men had been killed, 1,037 were missing, 1,790 wounded and 3,004 men had been taken prisoner. After the war, Dentz stated that 1,092 men had been killed, which would mean 1,790 wounded, 466 missing and 3,004 prisoners against a British claim of 8,912 casualties of all natures.  The Vichy Air Force lost 179 aircraft, most destroyed on the ground, the navy lost one submarine and 5,668 men defected to the Free French. The armistice agreement led to the repatriation to France of 37,563 military and civilian personnel in eight convoys, consisting of three hospital ships and a "gleaner" ship, from 7 August to 27 September.  

taken by the Vichy French forces were returned but several British prisoners of war had been sent out of Syria, some after the armistice. The delay in obtaining the return of these prisoners led to the detention of Dentz and 29 senior officers in Palestine who were released when the British prisoners were returned to Syria.  British and Commonwealth casualties were about 4,652; the Australians suffered 1,552 casualties, (416 men killed and 1,136 wounded.) The Free French incurred about c. 1,300 losses and 1,100 men taken prisoner; British and Indian casualties were 1,800 wounded, 1,200 men captured and 3,150 sick, including 350 malaria cases.  The RAF and RAAF lost 27 aircraft.
                     File:Allied leaders meet in the Middle East.jpg
Allied leaders meet in Syria. Left to right: Air Chief Marshal Longmore, General Wavell, General de Gaulle, General Catroux
Operations against the Vichy regime in Syria could only be conducted with troops withdrawn from the Western Desert, a dispersal that contributed to the defeat of Operation Battleaxe and made the Syrian campaign take longer than necessary. Churchill had decided to sack Wavell in early May over his reluctance to divert forces to Iraq. Wavell was relieved on 22 June and relinquished command on 5 July, leaving for India two days afterwards. In late July 1941, De Gaulle flew from Brazzaville to congratulate the victors.  Free French General Georges Catroux was placed in control of Syria and Lebanon and on 26 November, shortly after taking up this post, Catroux recognised the independence of Syria and Lebanon in the name of the Free French movement.  After elections on 8 November 1943, Lebanon became an independent state on 22 November 1943 and on 27 February 1945, declared war on Germany and the Empire of Japan.

By 1945, however, continued French presence in the Levant saw nationalist demonstrations which the French attempted to quell. With heavy Syrian casualties, notably in Damascus, Winston Churchill opposed French action but after being rebuffed by Charles De Gaulle, he ordered British forces into Syria from Jordan with orders to fire on the French. Known as the Levant Crisis – British armoured cars and troops then reached the Syrian capital Damascus following which the French were escorted and confined to their barracks. With political pressure added, De Gaulle ordered a ceasefire and France withdrew from Syria the following year.