The Dakar Operation August–September 1940


Map Code: Ax00277

After the fall of France, Charles de Gaulle enjoyed British support as the nominal leader of the Free French. Dakar in French West Africa was a leading naval base and home to valuable gold reserves, but the British bombardment of the French Navy at the Algerian port of Mers-el-Kébir on 3 July had served to reinforce Vichy support. Operation Menace was launched and an Allied task force and fleet (with de Gaulle), known as Force M, was sent to peacefully secure the occupation of Dakar. They arrived on 23 September, but attempted negotiations broke down. Gunfire was exchanged after the Allies refused to retreat from the port, and hostilities escalated. Bad weather set in and the plan to set troops ashore was abandoned. On 24–25 September, the Allied fleet bombarded the town, coastal fortifications and battleships, however they had underestimated the Vichy resolve. They eventually ceased fire and withdrew, and the Battle of Dakar caused de Gaulle to lose considerable standing in the eyes of the Allies.

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