West Africa Campaign (World War II)
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=West Africa Campaign
World War II
July 10– November 12, 1940
French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa
result=• Vichy victory in
French West Africa
• Allied victory in
French Equatorial Africa
commander1=flagicon|United Kingdom Andrew Cunningham
Charles De Gaulle
The name West African campaign refers to two battles during
World War II: the Battle of Dakar(also known as Operation Menace) and the Battle of Gabon, both of which were in late 1940. The actions involved Allied forces attacking Vichy Frenchforces in French overseas territories in West Africa.
Following the capture of Gabon, Free French forces controlled
French Equatorial Africa, while French West Africaremained under Vichy control, until the Allied landings in North Africa ( Operation Torch) in November 1942.
Course of the campaign
Anti-British sentiment in Africa had run high after the French battleship "Richelieu" had been hit in the port of
Dakar, Senegal, in French West Africa. This event happened on July 10 1940. cite web
title=The Second World War in the French Overseas Empire
accessdate=2006-02-27 ] In August,
Free FrenchGeneral Charles de Gaullesuggested an overland campaign, landing at Conakry, French Guinea. He anticipated that popular support for the Free Frenchmovement would be built in a drive on Dakar. But de Gaulle's suggestion was overruled by British desires to move swiftly.
18 September, three French light cruisers, the "Georges Leygues", the "Gloire", and the "Montcalm" were intercepted by Allied ships en route to Libreville. The intercepting Allied ships included the heavy cruiser HMAS "Australia". The three French light cruisers were forced to retreat.
French West Africa
The resistance stiffened as a result of the attacks on the French ships. From
5 Septemberto September1940, the Battle of Dakarwas fought when the Allied forces failed to persuade the Vichy Frenchdefenders of Dakar to allow them to peacefully enter the city. The Allied forces first tried to persuade the Vichy forces by means of propaganda. They then attempted to take Dakar by force of arms. Both attempts ended in defeat. Allied hopes to take French West Africawere put aside and strategic considerations shifted to French Equatorial Africainstead.
French Equatorial Africa
This battle, fought between
8 Novemberand 12 November, resulted in the capture of Librevilleand the liberation of French Equatorial Africa from Vichy control.
Free French Forces consolidated their gains in French Equatorial Africa, and were able to assist in other campaigns, including the East AfricanFact|Free French forces fought in East Africa but is there any support that these forces came from the French colonies or French forces in West Africa|date=September 2008 and
North African Campaigns. However, French West Africa did not capitulate or join the Allied cause until the November 1942 landings of Operation Torch.
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