French Somaliland

Full Name Côte française des Somalis
Alliance Neutral or Non-Belligerent
Possessing Power France
Entry into WW2 3 Sep 1939
Population in 1939 52,000

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Settled by the French starting in 1883, the colony of Côte française des Somalis was established in 1896 after various Somali and Afar Sultans signed treaties that submitted their territories to France. After France signed an armistice with Germany in 1940, French Somaliland declared allegiance toward the Vichy-based French leadership rather than the London-based Free French government-in-exile. In early 1941, Allied troops invaded and ultimately succeeded in taking neighboring Italian East Africa, thus surrounding French Somaliland. Being a colony of the non-belligerent Vichy-France, the Allies were reluctant in sending in troops, instead waged a propaganda war, calling for the colonial administration to switch sides in support of Free France. In 1942, Vichy-France recalled governor Pierre Nouailhetas in fear that he had been influenced by the propaganda, but this action failed to prevent two battalions stationed at French Somaliland to cross the borders into British Somaliland to join the opposing side. Seizing the opportunity of political strife within the French colony, British, French, and Commonwealth troops marched across the borders in Dec 1942, and captured the capital of Djibouti by the end of the year, and the remaining territories of the French colony by the end of Jan 1943. A colonial battalion raised in Djibouti would later be shipped to France to participate in actions against German troops in Western Europe. After the war, in 1946, French Somaliland was made an overseas territory of France. In 1958, a referendum was held to determine whether it would either remain under French influence or to join the independence movement of neighboring Somalia; the people voted to stay with France. In 1967, a second referendum was held; this time the results were split along ethnic lines, with Afars wishing to remain under France while the Somalis wanted to break away; the results would keep French Somaliland, very soon to be renamed French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, a French territory. In 1977, the third referendum finally saw the overwhelming majority of the populating voting for independence. The newly formed Republic of Djibouti was admitted into the United Nations, Organization of African Unity (later African Union), and the Arab League within the year of its independence.

Source: Wikipedia

Events Taken Place in French Somaliland

Invasion of French Somaliland1 Dec 1942 - 31 Jan 1943

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