Opening Shots in Africa
World War I in Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa 1914.0912
Opening Shots in Africa
Great War in Africa, East African Campaign, colonial campaigns (12 September 1914)
Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa
With the onset of World War I, the French and British moved swiftly to occupy German Togoland and, less successfully, to invade German Kamerun. Meanwhile the Germans launched their own small offensive, crossing from German East Africa into the British East Africa Protectorate.
Allied invasion of Kamerun
In August 1914 France invaded the German protectorate of Kamerun from the east in an attempt to regain the Neukamerun territory it had ceded to Germany in 1911. In the meantime, the British invaded from Nigeria, attacking Mora in the far north, Garua, and Nsanakong in the south. Although naval supremacy allowed the Allies to secure Kamerun’s coast in September, elsewhere German resistance was tenacious, enabling them to counterattack into Nigeria, Ubangi-Shari-Chad, and Middle Congo, and by early 1915 the invasion had been stalled.
On 5 August 1914, a day after Britain declared war on Germany, the Allies cut the German undersea cables connecting Germany to its African colonies. With the radio station at Kamina as his only remaining connection to the homeland, acting-Governor Döring of the German colony of Togoland proposed neutrality to the Allies; when his terms were rejected, he strategically abandoned the capital of Lomé and retreated into the interior. The next day the British and French invaded from their neighboring colonies, conquering Togoland in a 20-day campaign.
Invasion of East Africa Protectorate
At 3am on 15 August 1914 a German-led company of 200 Schutztruppe crossed the border between German East Africa and the British East Africa Protectorate and occupied Taveta village, near Mount Kilimanjaro. Three weeks later, to the north, another German force crossed the border, seizing the Lake Victoria port of Karungu on 9 September. After a brief incursion as far as Kisii, the Germans withdrew from this sector in the face of British reinforcements.
Siege of Mora
In mid-August 1914 British mounted units moved into northern Kamerun from Nigeria to discover that the Germans under Captain Ernst von Raben had set up a fortified position on and around Mora mountain (Moraberg). When the Germans drove off their initial attacks, the British, joined by French arriving from Chad, set up a siege. Despite several more Allied assault attempts, the Germans held out until February 1916, by which time the fall of the rest of Kamerun convinced von Raben to surrender with his 155 remaining men.