Battle of Gabon
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseBetween 8 and 12 Oct 1940, General Charles de Gaulle met with his staff at Douala, French Equatorial Africa (in Cameroon today), concluding the high level plans for an invasion of Gabon. In addition to establishing Free French influence there, de Gaulle also wished to establish Gabon as a staging point for a possible attack against German and Italian forces in Libya.
ww2dbaseOn 27 Oct, Free French forces crossed into Gabon and took the town of Mitzic. On 5 Nov, Free French forces oversaw the surrender of Vichy-French forces at Lambarene. On 8 Nov 1940, British sloop Milford patrolled the Gabon coast and sank Vichy-French submarine Poncelet. Later that day, General Pierre Knig's troops, consisted of French Legionnaires, Senegalese, and Cameroonian troops, landed at Pointe La Mondah near Libreville. On 9 Nov, Lysander aircraft took off from Douala and bombed the airfield at Libreville, softening resistance for Knig's troops, who took over the airfield by the end of the day. In the sea, sister sloops Savorgnan de Brazza and Bougainville, serving the Free French and Vichy-French navies, respectively, resulting in the sinking of Bougainville.
ww2dbaseOn 12 Nov 1940, the last Vichy-French stronghold at Port Gentil fell. Vichy-French Governor of Gabon Georges Pierre Masson committed suicide as the last pockets of his troops surrendered. Failing to persuade Vichy-French General Marcel Tetu and his men to fight for the Free French cause, de Gaulle kept them in a prisoners of war camp in Brazzaville, Congo for the remainder of the war.
Last Major Update: Jul 2007
Battle of Gabon Timeline
|27 Oct 1940||Free French forces from Cameroon attacked Vichy French forces in Gabon, penetrating 70 miles across the border and capturing the town of Mitzic.|
|5 Nov 1940||Free French troops captured Lambaréné, French Equatorial Africa (in present day Gabon) about 100 kilometer inland up the Ogooué River. Meanwhile, Free French, Foreign Legion, and Colonial troops set sail from Douala, French Cameroun for another Vichy-held city in French Equatorial Africa, Libreville.|
|7 Nov 1940||Vichy French submarine Poncelet fired a torpedo at the Allied invasion fleet sailing for Libreville, French Equitorial Africa 50 miles southwest of Libreville, hitting sloop HMS Milford, but the torpedo failed to explode. Poncelet was forced to surface by Milford's depth charges, and then was damaged by bombs from two Walrus biplanes of HMS Devonshire. All but one of Poncelet's complement of 61 surrendered after scuttling the ship; commanding officer Commander de Saussine decided to go down with the ship.|
|8 Nov 1940||French Legionnaires and colonial troops from Senegal and Cameroun landed north and south of Vichy-French-held Libreville, French Equitorial Africa. Heavy fighting began immediately.|
|9 Nov 1940||Free French forces entered Libreville, Gabon, French Equatorial Africa, engaging in street fighting with Vichy French forces. Off Libreville, Free French sloop Savorgnan de Brazza sunk Vichy sloop Bougainville by gunfire (they two were sister ships of the same class), while Free French sloop Commandant Domine prevented Vichy armed merchant cruiser Cap Des Palmes' crew from scuttling the ship and captured her.|
|12 Nov 1940||Vichy French forces in Gabon, French Equitorial Africa surrendered to Free French forces at Port Gentil 70 miles south of Libreville. Having successfully negotiated the surrender, Governor Georges Pierre Masson committed suicide shortly after the agreement was reached.|
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