Litani River - Operation Exporter
The original objective assigned to C Battalion "Layforce" (11 Scottish Commando) was to land on two beaches to the north of the River Litani and one to the south, seize and hold the Qasmiye bridge over it until relieved by 21 Australian Infantry Brigade.
Heavy sea swell and the risk of capsizing their landing craft, resulted in the first attempt being aborted in clear view of the enemy. A second attempt to land was carried out the following night. Delays during embarkation result in the landing craft reaching the beach with day light breaking and heavy losses. Despite being out numbered and suffering incredible misfortune and difficulties the Commando was able to hold the line long enough for the Australians to cross the river and continue with their advance to Beirut.
However their bravery was not without loss; of the 406 men that landed 130 were killed or wounded in nearly 29 hours of fighting, for which they only had enough ammunition and food to last eight. The death of the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Dick Pedder, and so many others was disastrous for the unit and a situation from which it would never fully recover.
Ian McHarg provides some comprehensive background information on The Battle of the Litani River and the battle fought by No.11 (Scottish) Commando during Operation Exporter. Ian McHarg’s book is available either as a hard copy from Amazon, or – for a donation to Help for Heroes -as an ebook download from his website Litani River.
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