Australian Ambassador Glenn Miles launched the book of photographs 'A Long Way From Home: Australian Forces in Lebanon 1941-42' in Jezzine, the second leg of the Australian Embassy's roadshow.
Present at the event were the Mayor of Jezzine, Mr Khalil Harfoush, representatives of security agencies and members of the Australian-Lebanese community, including people who lived through the events of 1941.
Community member Mr Joseph Aoun, who was 13 at the time, offered an eyewitness account of the Battle for Jezzine on the 77th anniversary of the battle between Allied and Vichy forces.
The battle was one of the toughest and costliest of the five week Allied campaign in June - July 1941 to remove Vichy French forces. Most of the fighting in Jezzine took place on a hill to the north of the town, and large numbers of Australian casualties were sustained, including when the Vichy French scored a direct hit on the Hotel Egypt.
Ambassador Miles told how, when a Vichy counter attack saw the Australian's food supplies disrupted, the people of Jezzine came to the rescue, presenting two cooked sheep for the Australians, which got them through until supplies resumed.
"The Australian forces didn't forget their connection to Jezzine on their return to Australia," he said. "There is a Jezzine Barracks in Townsville, North Queensland. It was named because the 2/31st Battalion - which was primarily raised from men who came from north Queensland - fought at Jezzine."
Wadih Harfoush also spoke of his family's connection to the battle, including his father's rescue of a downed French pilot as well as how, after the battle, the Australians had provided much needed food to the villages.
The publication is dedicated to the Australian servicemen who served in Lebanon and to the Lebanese people. The Embassy will organize further events to launch the publication in other regions of Lebanon.
Source: National News Agency