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West Africa Campaign (World War I)
Part of African theatre of World War I
Cameroonian troops in World War I.jpg
African troops in German Kamerun
Date 3 August 1914 – February 1916
Location Kamerun, Togoland
Result Allied victory
United Kingdom United Kingdom

France France

Belgium Belgium

German Empire Germany
Casualties and losses
Togoland theatre
European forces:
killed: 44
wounded: 77
African forces:
killed: 474
wounded: 1,110[1]
Togoland theatre
African forces:
2,000 (est.)1)
Cameroon theatre
5,000 (est.)[2]
1) German Togoland casualties do not include European casualties, only African.

The West Africa Campaign of World War I consisted of two small and fairly short military operations to capture the German colonies in West Africa: Togoland and Kamerun.



The United Kingdom, with near total command of the world's oceans, had the power and resources to conquer the German colonies when the Great War started. The two German colonies in West Africa were recently acquired and not well defended. They were also surrounded on all sides by African colonies that belonged to their enemies, the United Kingdom and France.


The Togoland campaign

This small colony was almost immediately conquered by a military force from the British Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) and a small force from French Dahomey (modern-day Benin).

The colony had no military forces, only a police force. The radio station at Kamina was attacked on August 22, 1914, and as the Allied converged on it the local German commander surrendered four days later, after first having ordered and overseen the destruction of the vital station. All operations were over by 27 August, with no German European casualties[1]. John Keegan identifies the two military forces as the West African Rifles and the Tirailleurs senegalais.[3]


The Kamerun campaign as at August 1915

Kamerun (modern-day Cameroon and parts of what is now eastern Nigeria) had a garrison of about 1,000 German soldiers supported by about 3,000 African soldiers. The British attacked out of Nigeria following three different routes east into Kamerun. However, all three columns were defeated by a combination of terrain, rough trails, and ambushes by the Germans. The French attacked south from Chad and captured Kusseri. Early in September, a Belgian-French force (mostly from the Belgian Congo) captured Limbe on the coast. With the aid of four British and French cruisers acting as mobile artillery, this force then captured the colonial capital of Douala on 27 September 1914.

The only major center of German resistance was now Yaounda (modern-day Yaounde). The Belgian-French troops followed the German-built railroad inland, beating off German counter-attacks along the way. By November, Yaounde was captured. Most of the surviving German soldiers retreated into Spanish Guinea (modern-day Equatorial Guinea), which was neutral territory. The last German fort in Kamerun surrendered in February 1916.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b F.J.Moberly, Military Operations. Togoland and the Cameroons, 1914-1916, pg. 426
  2. ^ Erlikman, Vadim (2004). Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow. ISBN 5-93165-107-1.  
  3. ^ Keegan, "World War I", pg. 206
  4. ^ Keegan, "World War I", pg. 207
  • Togoland and the Cameroons 1914-1916 by Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly (1931, HMSO, official history)
  • Paice, Edward Tip and Run: The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, ISBN 0-297-84709-0.


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