Sub-Saharan Africa 1942: Occupation of Madagascar
The British capture of Diégo Suarez in May 1942 did not completely remove the Japanese threat to Vichy Madagascar. In September the British moved south to occupy the rest of the island, taking the capital of Tananarive on the 23rd and receiving the final Vichy French surrender in November.
29 May–1 Jun 1942 Japanese raid on Madagascar▲
Japanese submarines I-10, I-16, and I-20 arrived off Diégo Suarez, three weeks after its capture by the British. I-16 and I-20 launched two midget submarines, which successfully penetrated the harbor and torpedoed the battleship HMS Ramillies and the oil tanker British Loyalty, although both craft were later repaired. The two-man crew of one of the midget submarines beached their vessel and attempted to move inland but were both killed in a firefight with Royal Marines three days later; the other midget submarine was lost at sea.
4–7 Jun 1942 Battle of Midway▲
In an attempt to lure the US Pacific Fleet’s few remaining aircraft carriers into a trap, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched an offensive against Midway Atoll. Warned of Japanese plans by its code-breakers, the US was prepared for the attack and successfully ambushed the Japanese force, sinking all four of its major aircraft carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu—and a heavy cruiser for the loss of just the carrier Yorktown and a destroyer.
23 Jun–1 Jul 1942 Operation Aïda▲
Panzerarmee Afrika, under Colonel-General Erwin Rommel, resumed its advance eastward into Egypt in Operation Aïda. After forcing the British Eighth Army to retreat from their defensive line at Mersa Matruh, Rommel reached El Alamein—close enough to Alexandria to prompt the British to evacuate the Mediterranean Fleet to Haifa, Port Said, and Beirut.
2 Jul 1942 Operation Throat▲
British troops landed in Mayotte, seizing the island from Vichy French rule in Madagascar for the construction of a seaplane base. The territory would remain under British control until 1946.
10 Sep–15 Nov 1942 Operation Stream Line Jane▲
By September 1942 the British position in northern Madagascar had been reinforced by the arrival of troops from East Africa, South Africa, and North Rhodesia, allowing them to mount an offensive to seize the entire island from Vichy France. The operation was code-named “Stream Line Jane” and consisted of three sub-operations: Stream—the landing at Majunga on 10 September; Line—the landing at Tamatave on 18 September; and Jane—the advance from Majunga to the French capital Tannanarive. The capture of Tannanarive on 23 September pushed the remaining Vichy forces into the interior, where they eventually surrendered in November.
12–24 Sep 1942 Laconia incident▲
On 12 September 1942 the German U-boat U-156 torpedoed and sunk RMS Laconia off the coast of West Africa while the latter was carrying some 2,732 peoples, including 1,500 Italian prisoners of war. Realizing that many of the passengers were POWs, the U-boat commander Hartenstein began rescue operations under the Red Cross flag, calling on nearby U-boats for support and broadcasting in English to all shipping in the area for assistance. Believing the message to be a ruse, US aircraft based on Ascension Island began bombing attacks on the U-boats but only managed to sink a few lifeboats. In the end, only 1,113 survivors were rescued and most of the Italian POWs died. The event prompted German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz to issue the “Laconia Order”, forbidding future rescue attempts by U-boats.
25 Sep 1942 Occupation of Comoros▲
British troops landed in the Comoros islands, at the time part of Vichy French Madagascar. The British would remain in occupation of the islands until 1946.