Battle of Madagascar

The Battle of Madagascar was the British campaign to capture the Vichy French-controlled island Madagascar during World War II. The seizure of the island by the British was to deny Madagascar's ports to the Imperial Japanese Navy and to prevent the loss or impairment of the Allied shipping routes to India, Australia and Southeast Asia. It began with Operation Ironclad, the seizure of the port of Diego-Suarez (now Antsiranana) near the northern tip of the island, on 5 May 1942.[1]

A subsequent campaign to secure the entire island, Operation Stream Line Jane, was opened on 10 September. The Allies broke into the interior linking up with forces on the coast and secured the island by the end of October. Fighting ceased and an armistice was granted on 6 November.[5] This was the first large-scale operation by the Allies of World War II combining sea, land and air forces.[6]



Diego-Suarez is a large bay with a fine harbour near the northern tip of the island of Madagascar and has an opening to the east through a narrow channel called Oronjia Pass. The naval base of Diego-Suarez lies on a peninsula between two of the four small bays enclosed within Diego-Suarez Bay. Diego-Suarez Bay cuts deeply into the northern tip of Madagascar (Cape Amber), almost severing it from the rest of the island.[7]:133 In the 1880s, the bay was coveted by France, which claimed it as a coaling station for steamships travelling to French possessions farther east. The colonization was formalized after the first Franco-Hova War when Queen Ranavalona III signed a treaty on 17 December 1885 giving France a protectorate over the bay and surrounding territory, as well as the islands of Nosy Be and St. Marie de Madagascar. The colony's administration was subsumed into that of French Madagascar in 1897.[8]

In 1941, Diego-Suarez town, the bay and the channel were well protected by naval shore batteries.[7]:133


Following the Japanese conquest of Southeast Asia east of Burma by the end of February 1942, submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy were moving freely throughout the north and eastern expanses of the Indian Ocean. In March 1942, Japanese aircraft carriers conducted the Indian Ocean raid upon shipping in the Bay of Bengal and bases in Colombo and Trincomalee in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). This raid drove the British Eastern Fleet out of the area and they were forced to relocate to a new base at Kilindini, near Mombasa, in Kenya.

The move made the British fleet more vulnerable to attack. The possibility of Japanese naval forces using forward bases in Madagascar had to be addressed. The potential use of these facilities particularly threatened Allied merchant shipping, the supply route to the British Eighth Army and also the Eastern Fleet.

Japanese submarines had the longest range of any Axis forces' subs at the time — more than 10,000 miles (16,000 km) in some cases, but being challenged by the United States Navy's then-relatively new Gato-class fleet submarines' 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) top range figures. If the Imperial Japanese Navy's submarines were able to utilise bases on Madagascar, Allied lines of communication would be affected across a region stretching from the Pacific and Australia, to the Middle East and as far as the South Atlantic.

On 17 December 1941, Vice Admiral Fricke, Chief of Staff of Germany's Maritime Warfare Command (Seekriegsleitung), met Vice Admiral Naokuni Nomura, the Japanese Naval Attaché, in Berlin to discuss the delimitation of respective operational areas between the German Kriegsmarine and Imperial Japanese Navy forces. At another meeting on 27 March 1942, Fricke stressed the importance of the Indian Ocean to the Axis powers and expressed the desire that the Japanese begin operations against the northern Indian Ocean sea routes. Fricke further emphasized that Ceylon, the Seychelles, and Madagascar should have a higher priority for the Axis navies than operations against Australia.[7]:116 By 8 April, the Japanese announced to Fricke that they intended to commit four or five submarines and two auxiliary cruisers for operations in the western Indian Ocean between Aden and the Cape of Good Hope, but they refused to disclose their plans for operations against Madagascar and Ceylon, only reiterating their commitment to operations in the area.[7]:117


The Allies had heard the rumours of Japanese plans for the Indian Ocean and on 27 November 1941, the British Chiefs of Staff discussed the possibility that the Vichy government might cede the whole of Madagascar to Japan, or alternatively permit the Japanese Navy to establish bases on the island. British naval advisors urged the occupation of the island as a precautionary measure.[7]:131 On 16 December, General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French in London, sent a letter to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in which he also urged a Free French operation against Madagascar.[9]:223 Churchill recognised the risk of a Japanese-controlled Madagascar to Indian Ocean shipping, particularly to the important sea route to India and Ceylon, and considered the port of Diego-Suarez as the strategic key to Japanese influence in the Indian Ocean. However, he also made it clear to planners that he did not feel Britain had the resources to mount such an operation and, following experience in the Battle of Dakar in September 1940, did not want a joint operation launched by British and Free French forces to secure the island.[9]:223

By 12 March 1942, Churchill had been convinced of the importance of such an operation and the decision was reached that the planning of the invasion of Madagascar would begin in earnest. It was agreed that the Free French would be explicitly excluded from the operation. As a preliminary battle outline, Churchill gave the following guidelines to the planners[9]:225 and the operation was designated Operation Bonus:[9]:225

  • Force H, the ships guarding the Western Mediterranean, should move south from Gibraltar and should be replaced by an American Task Force
  • The 4,000 men and ships proposed by Lord Mountbatten for the operation, should be retained as the nucleus around which the plan should be built
  • The operation should commence around 30 April 1942
  • In the event of success, the commandos recommended by Mountbatten should be replaced by garrison troops as soon as possible[9]:225

On 14 March, Force 121 was constituted under the command of Major-General Robert Sturges of the Royal Marines with Rear-Admiral Edward Syfret being placed in command of naval Force H and the supporting sea force.[7]:132

Allied preparations

Battle of Madagaskar
Map of the assault

Force 121 left the Clyde in Scotland on 23 March and joined with South African-born Syfret's ships at Freetown in Sierra Leone, proceeding from there in two convoys to their assembly point at Durban on the South African east coast. Here they were joined by the 13th Brigade Group of the 5th Division – General Sturges' force consisting of three infantry brigades, while Syfret's squadron consisted of the flag battleship HMS Ramillies, the aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious and HMS Indomitable, the cruisers HMS Hermione and HMS Devonshire, eleven destroyers, six minesweepers, six corvettes and auxiliaries. It was a formidable force to bring against the 8,000 men (mostly Malagasy) at Diego-Suarez, but the chiefs of staff were adamant that the operation was to succeed, preferably without any fighting.[7]:132

This was to be the first British amphibious assault since the disastrous landings in the Dardanelles twenty-seven years before.[9]:230

During the assembly in Durban, Field-Marshal Jan Smuts pointed out that the mere seizure of Diego-Suarez would be no guarantee against continuing Japanese aggression and urged that the ports of Majunga and Tamatave be occupied as well. This was evaluated by the chiefs of staff, but it was decided to retain Diego-Suarez as the only objective due to the lack of manpower.[7]:132 Churchill remarked that the only way to permanently secure Madagascar was by means of a strong fleet and adequate air support operating from Ceylon and sent General Archibald Wavell (India Command) a note stating that as soon as the initial objectives had been met, all responsibility for safeguarding Madagascar would be passed on to Wavell. He added that when the commandos were withdrawn, garrison duties would be performed by two African brigades and one brigade from the Belgian Congo or west coast of Africa.[9]:231

In March and April, the South African Air Force (SAAF) had conducted reconnaissance flights over Diego-Suarez and No. 32, 36 and 37 Coastal Flights were withdrawn from maritime patrol operations and sent to Lindi on the Indian Ocean coast of Tanganyika, with an additional eleven Bristol Beauforts and six Martin Marylands to provide close air support during the planned operations.[7]:133


Allied commanders decided to launch an amphibious assault on Madagascar. The task was Operation Ironclad and executed by Force 121. It would include Allied naval, land and air forces and be commanded by Major-General Robert Sturges of the Royal Marines. The British Army landing force included the 29th Independent Infantry Brigade Group, No 5 (Army) Commando, and two brigades of the 5th Infantry Division, the latter en route to India with the remainder of their division. The Allied naval contingent consisted of over 50 vessels, drawn from Force H, the British Home Fleet and the British Eastern Fleet, commanded by Syfret. The fleet included the aircraft carrier Illustrious, her sister ship Indomitable and the ageing battleship Ramillies to cover the landings.

Débarquement à Tamatave
Allied soldiers landing from LCAs at Tamatave in May 1942

Landings (Operation Ironclad)

Following many reconnaissance missions by the SAAF, the first wave of the British 29th Infantry Brigade and No. 5 Commando landed in assault craft on 5 May 1942. Follow-up waves were by two brigades of the 5th Infantry Division and Royal Marines. All were carried ashore by landing craft to Courrier Bay and Ambararata Bay, just west of the major port of Diego-Suarez, at the northern tip of Madagascar. A diversionary attack was staged to the east. Air cover was provided mainly by Fairey Albacore and Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers which attacked Vichy shipping. They were supported by Grumman Martlets fighters from the Fleet Air Arm. A small number of SAAF planes assisted.

The defending Vichy forces, led by Governor General Armand Léon Annet, included about 8,000 troops, of whom about 6,000 were Malagasy tirailleurs (colonial infantry). A large proportion of the rest were Senegalese. Between 1,500 and 3,000 Vichy troops were concentrated around Diego-Suarez.[1] However, naval and air defences were relatively light and/or obsolete: eight coastal batteries, two armed merchant cruisers, two sloops, five submarines, 17 Morane-Saulnier 406 fighters and 10 Potez 63 bombers.

Operation Ironclad.Madagascar1942
Captured French troops marching away from their HQ after the British had captured Diego-Suarez on 7 May
Negotiations for the surrender of Diego-Suarez at the British headquarters in the town

The beach landings met with virtually no resistance and these troops seized Vichy coastal batteries and barracks. The Courier Bay force, the 17th Infantry Brigade, after toiling through mangrove swamp and thick bush took the town of Diego-Suarez taking a hundred prisoners. The Ambararata Bay force, the 29th Independent Brigade, headed towards the French naval base of Antisarane.[1] With assistance from six Valentines and six Tetrarch light tanks of B Special Service Squadron they advanced 21 miles overcoming light resistance with bayonet charges.[10] Antisarane itself was heavily defended with trenches, two redoubts, pillboxes, and flanked on both sides by impenetrable swamps.[11]

On the morning of 6 May 1942 a frontal assault on the defences failed with the loss of three Valentines and two Tetrarchs.[10] Another assault by the South Lancashires worked their way around the defences but the swamps and bad terrain meant they were broken up into groups. Nevertheless, they swung behind the Vichy line and caused chaos. Fire was poured on the Vichy defences from behind and the radio station and a barracks were seized.[11] In all 200 prisoners were taken, but the South Lancs had to withdraw as communication with the main force was nonexistent after the radio set failed. With the French defence highly effective, the deadlock was broken when the old destroyer HMS Anthony dashed straight past the harbour defences of Antisarane and landed fifty Royal Marines from Ramillies amidst the Vichy rear area.[11] The marines created "disturbance in the town out of all proportion to their numbers" taking the French artillery command post along with its barracks and the naval depot. At the same time the troops of the 17th Infantry Brigade had broken through the defences and were soon marching in the town. The Vichy defence was broken and Antisarane surrendered that evening, although substantial Vichy forces withdrew to the south.[12]

The Japanese submarines I-10, I-16, and I-20 arrived three weeks later on 29 May 1942. I-10's reconnaissance plane spotted HMS Ramillies at anchor in Diego-Suarez harbour, but the plane was spotted and Ramillies changed her berth. I-20 and I-16 launched two midget submarines, one of which managed to enter the harbour and fired two torpedoes while under depth charge attack from two corvettes. One torpedo seriously damaged Ramillies, while the second sank the 6,993-ton oil tanker British Loyalty (later refloated).[13] Ramillies was later repaired in Durban and Plymouth.

The crew of one of the midget submarines, Lieutenant Saburo Akieda and Petty Officer Masami Takemoto, beached their craft (M-20b) at Nosy Antalikely and moved inland towards their pick-up point near Cape Amber. They were betrayed when they bought food at the village of Anijabe and both were killed in a firefight with Royal Marines three days later. One marine was killed in the action as well. The second midget submarine was lost at sea and the body of a crewman was found washed ashore a day later.[13]

Ground campaign (Operation Stream Line Jane)

IWM A 012399 Madagascar
19 September 1942. Allied troops disembarking from a LCA in Tamatave harbour.

Hostilities continued at a low level for several months. After 19 May 1942 two brigades of the 5th Infantry Division were transferred to India. On 8 June 1942, the 22nd (East Africa) Brigade Group arrived on Madagascar[14] The 7th South African Motorized Brigade arrived on 24 June 1942.[15] The 27th (North Rhodesia) Infantry Brigade (including forces from East Africa) landed on 8 August.[16]

The operation code-named "Stream Line Jane" (sometimes given as "Streamline Jane") consisted of three separate sub-operations code-named Stream, Line and Jane. Stream and Jane were, respectively, the amphibious landings at Majunga on 10 September and Tamatave on 18 September, while Line was the advance from Majunga to the French capital, Tannanarive, which fell on 23 September.[17][18]

On 10 September 1942 the 29th Brigade and 22nd Brigade Group made an amphibious landing at Majunga, another port on the west coast of the island. No. 5 Commando spearheaded the landing and faced machine gun fire but despite this they stormed the quayside, took control of the local post office, stormed the governor's residence and raised the Union Jack.[19] Having severed communications with Tannanarive, the Allies intended to re-launch the offensive ahead of the rainy season. Progress was slow for the Allied forces. In addition to occasional small-scale clashes with Vichy forces, they also encountered scores of obstacles erected on the main roads by Vichy soldiers. The Allies eventually captured the capital, Tananarive, without much opposition, and then the town of Ambalavao, but the devoutly Vichy Governor Annet escaped.[20]

Eight days later a British force set out to seize Tamatave. Heavy surf interfered with the operation. As HMS Birmingham's launch was heading to shore it was fired at by French shore batteries and promptly turned around. Birmingham then opened her guns up on the shores batteries and within three minutes the French hauled up the white flag. Tamatave fell into British hands. From there the South Lancashires and the Royal Welch Fusiliers set out to the south to link up with forces there. After they reached Tananarive they pressed on towards Moramanga and on 25 September 1942 they linked up with the King's African Rifles having secured the British lines of communication around the island. At the same time the East African infantry and South African armoured cars set out to find the elusive Governor Annet.[20]

The last major action took place on 18 October , at Andramanalina, a U-shaped valley with the meandering Mangarahara River where an ambush was planned for British forces by Vichy troops. The King's African Rifles split into two columns and marched around the 'U' of the valley and met Vichy troops in the rear and then ambushed them. The Vichy troops suffered heavy losses which resulted in 800 of them surrendering.[20] A week later the King's African Rifles then entered Fianarantosa but found Annet gone, this time near Ihosy 100 miles south. The Africans swiftly moved after him, but they received an envoy from Annet asking for terms of surrender. He had had enough and couldn't escape further. An armistice was signed in Ambalavao on 6 November 1942, and Annet surrendered two days later.[21]

The Allies suffered about 500 casualties in the landing at Diego-Suarez, and 30 more killed and 90 wounded in the operations which followed on 10 September 1942.

Julian Jackson, in his biography of de Gaulle[22], observed that the French had held out longer against the Allies in Madagascar in 1942 than they had against the Germans in France in 1940.


Westland Lysander - Madagascar WWII
December 1942. Four RAF Westland Lysander aircraft flying over Madagascar following the end of the campaign.

With Madagascar in Allied hands, they established military and naval installations across the island. The island was crucial for the rest of the war. Its deep water ports were vital to control the passageway to India and the Persian corridor, and this was now beyond the grasp of the Axis.[20] This was the first large-scale operation of World War II by the Allies combining sea, land, and air forces. In the makeshift Allied planning of the war's early years, the invasion of Madagascar held a prominent strategic place.[6]

Free French General Paul Legentilhomme was appointed High Commissioner for Madagascar. Like many colonies, Madagascar sought its independence following the war. In 1947, the island experienced the Malagasy Uprising, a costly revolution that was crushed in 1948. It was not until 26 June 1960, about twelve years later, that the Malagasy Republic successfully proclaimed its independence from France.

Campaign service in Madagascar did not qualify for the British and Commonwealth Africa Star. It was instead covered by the 1939–1945 Star.[23]

Order of battle

Allied Forces

The Royal Navy during the Second World War A9713
A Grumman Martlet of the Fleet Air Arm flying over HMS Warspite during the Madagascar operations

Naval forces

Jacob van heemskerk light cruiser
Jacob van Heemskerck, a Dutch cruiser involved in the operations off Madagascar
Baia di Diego Suarez
Modern-day view of the bay
HMS Ramillies
Aircraft Carriers
HMS Illustrious
HMS Indomitable
HMS Birmingham[24]
HMS Dauntless[24]
HMS Gambia[24]
HMS Hermione
HMS Devonshire
HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck
HMS Manxman[24]
HMS Erebus[24]
Seaplane Carrier
HMS Albatross[24]
HMS Active
HMS Anthony
HMS Arrow[24]
HMS Blackmore[24]
HMS Duncan
HMS Fortune[24]
HMS Foxhound[24]
HMS Inconstant
HMS Hotspur[24]
HMS Javelin
HMS Laforey
HMS Lightning
HMS Lookout
HMAS Napier[24]
HMAS Nepal[24]
HMAS Nizam
HMAS Norman
HMS Pakenham
HMS Paladin
HMS Panther
HNLMS Van Galen[24]
HNLMS Tjerk Hiddes[24]
HMS Freesia
HMS Auricula
HMS Nigella
HMS Fritillary
HMS Genista
HMS Cyclamen
HMS Thyme
HMS Jasmine
HMS Cromer
HMS Poole
HMS Romney
HMS Cromarty
Assault transports
HMS Winchester Castle
HMS Royal Ulsterman
HMS Keren
HMS Karanja
MS Sobieski (Polish)
Special ships
HMS Derwentdale (LCA)
HMS Bachaquero (LST)
Troop ships
SS Oronsay
RMS Duchess of Atholl
RMS Franconia
Stores and MT ships
SS Empire Kingsley
M/S Thalatta
SS Mahout
SS City of Hong Kong
SS Mairnbank
SS Martand II[25]

Ground forces

Valentine II in Kubinka
A Valentine tank of the type used during the invasion.
British OP Ironclad 942BEMB
Organization of British ground forces for Operation Ironclad, during the invasion of Madagascar 5 May 1942[26][27]
29th Infantry Brigade (independent) arrived via amphibious landing near Diego-Suarez on 5 May 1942
2nd South Lancashire Regiment
2nd East Lancashire Regiment
1st Royal Scots Fusiliers
2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers
455th Light Battery (Royal Artillery)
MG company
'B' Special Service Squadron with 6 Valentine and 6 Tetrarch tanks
Commandos arrived via amphibious landing near Diego-Suarez on 5 May 1942
No. 5 Commando
British 17th Infantry Brigade Group (of 5th Division) landed near Diego-Suarez as second wave on 5 May 1942
2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers
2nd Northamptonshire Regiment
6th Seaforth Highlanders
9th Field Regiment (Royal Artillery)
British 13th Infantry Brigade (of 5th Division) landed near Diego-Suarez as third wave on 6 May 1942. Departed 19 May 1942 for India
2nd Cameronians
2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
2nd Wiltshire Regiment
East African Brigade Group arrived 22 June to replace 13 and 17 Brigades
South African 7th Motorised Brigade
Rhodesian 27th Infantry Brigade arrived 8 August 1942; departed 29 June 1944
2nd Northern Rhodesia Regiment
3rd Northern Rhodesia Regiment
4th Northern Rhodesia Regiment
55th (Tanganyika) Light Battery
57th (East African) Field Battery[25]

Fleet Air Arm

Aboard HMS Illustrious
881 Squadron - 12 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat (Martlet Mk.II)
882 Squadron - 8 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat (Martlet Mk.II) 1 Fairey Fulmar
810 Squadron - 10 Fairey Swordfish
829 Squadron - 10 Fairey Swordfish
Aboard HMS Indomitable
800 Squadron - 8 Fairey Fulmar
806 Squadron - 4 Fairey Fulmar
880 Squadron - 6 Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk IA
827 Squadron - 12 Fairey Albacore
831 Squadron - 12 Fairey Albacore[25]

Vichy France

Naval Forces

Merchant Cruiser Bougainville 2
Sloop D'Entrecasteaux

Land forces

The following order of battle represents the Malagasy and Vichy French forces on the island directly after the initial Ironclad landings.[28]

Midget submarine crews (AWM P00325-001)
Members of the Japanese imperial navy midget submarine attack group which included those who carried out the attacks on Diego-Suarez.
West coast
Two platoons of reservists and volunteers at Nossi-Bé
Two companies of the Régiment Mixte Malgache (RMM – Mixed Madagascar Regiment) at Ambanja
One battalion of the 1er RMM at Majunga
East coast
One battalion of the 1er RMM at Tamatave
One artillery section (65mm) at Tamatave
One company of the 1er RMM at Brickaville
Centre of the island
Three battalions of the 1er RMM at Tananarive
One motorised reconnaissance detachment at Tananarive
Emyrne battery at Tananarive
One artillery section (65mm) at Tananarive
One engineer company at Tananarive
One company of the 1er RMM at Mevatanana
One company of the Bataillon de Tirailleurs Malgaches (BTM - Malagasy Tirailleurs Battalion) at Fianarantsoa
South of the island
One company of the BTM at Fort Dauphin
One company of the BTM at Tuléar


Naval forces

  • Submarines I-10 (with reconnaissance aircraft), I-16, I-18 (damaged by heavy seas and arrived late), I-20
  • Midget submarines M-16b, M-20b

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Rigge pp 103-04
  2. ^ a b c Wessels 1996.
  3. ^ Stapleton, Timothy J. A Military History of Africa p. 225
  4. ^ Winston Churchill, Prime Minister (10 November 1942). |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. Archived from the original on 22 May 2014.
  5. ^ Thomas 1996.
  6. ^ a b Rigge p. 100
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Turner, Gordon-Cummings & Betzler 1961.
  8. ^ "History of Madagascar". History World. Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Churchill 1950.
  10. ^ a b Flint, pp. 68-69
  11. ^ a b c Rigge pp.105-06
  12. ^ Combined Operations: the Official Story of the Commandos. Great Britain: Combined Operations Command. 1943. pp. 101–109. ISBN 9781417987412.
  13. ^ a b Rigge pp. 107–108
  14. ^ Joslen 2003, pp. 421–422.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Joslen 2003, pp. 425–426.
  17. ^ Buckley 1977, pp. 191, 202.
  18. ^ Chant 1986, pp. 196 (Jane) and 266 (Stream). See also Stream, Line and Jane at Codenames: Operations of World War II (retrieved 2017-11-18).
  19. ^ "Operation Ironclad: 5–7 May 1942". Archived from the original on 21 March 2009.
  20. ^ a b c d Rigge pp 110-11
  21. ^ "World Battlefronts: Madagascar Surrenders". Time Magazine. 16 November 1942. JSTOR 2  2. Archived from the original on 14 October 2010.
  22. ^ Jackson, Julian (2018). A Certain Idea of France: the life of Charles de Gaulle. London: Allen Lane. pp. Chapter 9. ISBN 1846143519.
  23. ^ "Medals: campaigns, descriptions & eligibility", Guidance, UK: Government, archived from the original on 23 June 2017.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Mason RN, Lt Cdr (Rtd) Geoffrey B (2003). "Dutch HNethMS TJERK HIDDES (G 16), ex-HMS NONPAREIL - N-class Destroyer". SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2. Archived from the original on 26 March 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  25. ^ a b c d "Operation Ironclad: Invasion of Madagascar". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  26. ^ Nafziger, George. "Operation Ironclad Invasion of Madagascar 5 May 1942" (PDF). United States Army Combined Arms Research Library. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  27. ^ Nafziger, George. "British Infantry Brigades 1st thru 215th 1939-1945" (PDF). United States Army Combined Arms Research Library. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Madagascar, Ordres de bataille" (in French). Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.


  • Buckley, Christopher (1977). Five Ventures: Iraq, Syria, Persia, Madagascar, Dodecanese. H. M. Stationery Office.
  • Chant, Christopher (1986). The Encyclopedia of Codenames of World War II. Routledge.
  • Churchill, Winston (1950). The Hinge of Fate. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. OCLC 396148.
  • Joslen, H.F. (2003). Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945. I. London; Uckfield: HM Stationery Office; Naval & Military. ISBN 1843424746.
  • Flint, Keith (2006). Airborne Armour: Tetrarch, Locust, Hamilcar and the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment 1938–1950. Helion & Company. ISBN 1-874622-37-X.
  • Rigge, Simon (1980). War in the Outposts. World War II: Time-Life International. 24. Time-Life Books. ISBN 9780809433797.
  • Shores, Christopher (1996). Dust Clouds in the Middle East: Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940–42. London: Grub Street.
  • Smith, Colin (2010). England's Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940-42. Hachette UK. ISBN 9780297857815.
  • Thomas, Martin (December 1996). "Imperial Backwater or Strategic Outpost? The British Takeover of Vichy Madagascar, 1942". The Historical Journal. Cambridge University Press. 39 (4): 1049–74. doi:10.1017/s0018246x00024754. JSTOR 2639867.
  • Turner, Leonard Charles Frederick; Gordon-Cummings, H.R; Betzler, J.E. (1961). Turner, L.C.F. (ed.). War in the Southern Oceans: 1939–1945. Cape Town: Oxford University Press. OCLC 42990496.
  • Wessels, André (June 1996). "South Africa and the War against Japan, 1941–1945". Military History Journal. South African Military History Society. 10 (3).
  • Jennings, Eric T. (2001). Vichy in the Tropics: Petain's National Revolution in Madagascar, Guadeloupe, and Indochina, 1940-44. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804750475.

Further reading

  • Harrison, E.D.R. (April 1999). "British Subversion in French East Africa, 1941–42: SOE's Todd Mission". English Historical Review. 114 (456): 339–369. doi:10.2307/580082. JSTOR 580082.
  • Nativel, Eric (1998). "La «guérilla» des troupes vichystes à Madasgar en 1942". Revue Historique des Armées. 1.

External links

1939–1945 Star

The 1939–1945 Star is a military campaign medal instituted by the United Kingdom on 8 July 1943 for award to British and Commonwealth forces for service in the Second World War. Two clasps were instituted to be worn on the medal ribbon, Battle of Britain and Bomber Command.

1942 in France

Events from the year 1942 in France.

710 Naval Air Squadron

710 Naval Air Squadron (710 NAS) was a Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. 710 NAS was a seaplane squadron that was stood up at RNAS Lee on Solent on August 23, 1939. They were equipped with the Supermarine Walrus flying boat and did multiple deployments onboard HMAS Albatross (1928), a seaplane tender. They performed convoy escort, anti submarine patrols, and air sea rescue services in the Atlantic off the west coast of Africa and in the Indian Ocean, in addition to support roles like pulling target drogues for gunnery practice and aerial photography. The squadron supported Allied landings during Battle of Madagascar in April and remained in the area through November. The squadron did some further work in the Indian Ocean but was eventually sent back to England where it was disbanded on October 14, 1943. The squadron was reformed on October 7, 1944 on the Isle of Man as a torpedo training squadron equipped with Fairey Barracuda and Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers. The squadron was finally disbanded at HMS Urley [RNAS Ronaldsway] on December 20, 1945.

810 Naval Air Squadron

810 Naval Air Squadron was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm carrier based squadron formed on 3 April 1933 with the amalgamation of the 12 Blackburn Dart aircraft from 463 and 44 Flight (Fleet Torpedo) Flights Royal Air Force to the Fleet Air Arm. The squadron saw action during the Second World War, the Suez Crisis and the Korean War.

820 Naval Air Squadron

820 Naval Air Squadron is a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm carrier based squadron formed at RAF Gosport on 3 April 1933 with the transferral of the Fairey III aircraft from 450 Flight and half of 445 Flight of the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force. It has operated, with a number of brief gaps, up to the present day and continues in service, flying the AgustaWestland Merlin HM.2 from RNAS Culdrose.

Battle of Tamatave

The Battle of Tamatave (sometimes called the Battle of Madagascar or the Action of 20 May 1811) was fought off Tamatave in Madagascar between British and French frigate squadrons during the Napoleonic Wars. The action was the final engagement of the Mauritius campaign of 1809–1811, and it saw the destruction of the last French attempt to reinforce their garrison on Mauritius. Although the news had not reached Europe by February 1811 when the reinforcement squadron left Brest, Mauritius had been captured in December 1810 by a British invasion fleet, the French defences hampered by the lack of the supplies and troops carried aboard the frigate squadron under the command of Commodore François Roquebert in Renommée. Roquebert's heavily laden ships reached Mauritius on 6 May and discovered that the island was in British hands the following day, narrowly escaping a trap laid by a squadron of British frigates ordered to hunt and destroy them.

On 20 May the British squadron, under the command of Captain Charles Marsh Schomberg, discovered the French off Tamatave and attacked, both sides hampered by light winds which impeded movement for much of the day. During a period of calm weather early in the battle, the French were better positioned than the disorganised British squadron and Roquebert's ships inflicted severe damage on several British vessels before an increasing breeze allowed Schomberg to press home his attack. As the evening approached, the French attempted to escape, Roquebert sacrificing his flagship and ultimately his life to allow the frigates Clorinde and the badly damaged Néréide to escape. Five days later, Schomberg's squadron rediscovered Néréide at Tamatave and persuaded the town's commander to surrender without a fight. The battle was the last action of the Mauritius campaign and confirmed British dominance of the seas east of the Cape of Good Hope for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars.

France–Madagascar relations

France–Madagascar relations refers to the diplomatic relations between the French Republic and the Republic of Madagascar. France controlled Madagascar beginning in 1895 until the islands nation independence in 1960. Both nations are today members of the Francophonie and the United Nations.

Francis Festing

Field Marshal Sir Francis Wogan Festing, (Mandarin: 菲士挺, fēi shì tǐng; 28 August 1902 – 3 August 1976) was a senior British Army officer. His most important posts were as Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong (1945–46 and 1949), General Officer Commanding (GOC) British Troops in Egypt (1952), GOC Eastern Command (1954), Commander-in-Chief Far East Land Forces (1956), and Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1958–61). He saw active service in the Second World War, taking a prominent role in Operation Ironclad (the Battle of Madagascar) and the Arakan offensive of the Burma Campaign, and later advised the British government on ending conscription and reducing the size of the army by fifteen battalions.

HMS Express (H61)

HMS Express was an E-class minelaying destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. Although assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935–36 during the Abyssinia Crisis. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39, she spent considerable time in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict.

Express spent most of the first year of World War 2 laying minefields in British, Dutch and German waters. She participated in the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk in May–June 1940, but resumed minelaying afterwards. The ship was one of five British destroyers that inadvertently entered a German minefield off the Dutch coast a few months later, leading to the sinking of two destroyers and Express having her bow blown off, incapacitating her for over a year of repairs. Two months after returning to duty, Express escorted the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse (Force Z) to Singapore in late 1941, in an unsuccessful attempt to deter Japanese aggression against British possessions in the Far East. She escorted the capital ships in an attempt to intercept landings in British Malaya in December and rescued their survivors after they were sunk by Japanese bombers. Express was then assigned convoy escort duties in and around Singapore and the Dutch East Indies under the control of American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) as the Japanese advanced. She escaped from the East Indies and rejoined the main body of the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. The ship played a minor role in Battle of Madagascar as she screened an aircraft carrier during the late stages of the campaign in 1942.

Express returned home in early 1943 to begin conversion into an escort destroyer. Upon its completion in June, the ship was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and renamed Gatineau. She was assigned to convoy escort duties with the Mid-Ocean Escort Force and participated in sinking a German submarine in March 1944. Gatineau was transferred to Northern Ireland in preparation in May for the Invasion of Normandy and was sent to Canada in July to begin a lengthy refit. The ship was only operational for a few months before the war ended in May 1945 and she returned to Canada shortly afterwards. Gatineau was paid off in early 1946 and was sold the following year. The ship became part of a breakwater on the coast of British Columbia in 1948.

HMS Fortune (H70)

HMS Fortune was one of nine F-class destroyers built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s. Although she was assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was detached to the Mediterranean Fleet to enforce the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides during the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. Several weeks after the start of the Second World War in September 1939, Fortune helped to sink a German submarine. The ship escorted the larger ships of the fleet during the early stages of World War II and played a minor role in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. Fortune was sent to Gibraltar in mid-1940 and formed part of Force H where she participated in the Battle of Dakar against the Vichy French. The ship escorted numerous convoys to Malta in 1940–41 until she was badly damaged by Italian bombers in mid-1941.

After repairs were completed, Fortune was briefly assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet before she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean in early 1942. The ship screened an aircraft carrier during the Battle of Madagascar later that year and was assigned to convoy escort duties for the rest of 1942 and early 1943. She returned home in February to begin conversion into an escort destroyer. The ship was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) when it was completed in mid-1943 and renamed HMCS Saskatchewan. The ship spent the next year escorting convoys in the North Atlantic before she was transferred to the English Channel to defend convoys during the Normandy landings in June 1944. Saskatchewan engaged some German patrol boats the following month and was lightly damaged. She was sent to Canada for repairs and a general refit and did not return to the UK until January 1945. The ship resumed her former duties until the end of the war in May and then ferried troops back to Canada for several months. Saskatchewan was judged surplus later that year and was sold for scrap, in early 1946.

History of Madagascar

The history of Madagascar is distinguished clearly by the early isolation of the landmass from the ancient supercontinent containing Africa and India, and by the island's late colonization by human settlers arriving in outrigger canoes from the Sunda islands (Malay Archipelago) between 200 BC and 500 AD. These two factors facilitated the evolution and survival of thousands of endemic plant and animal species, some of which have gone extinct or are currently threatened with extinction due to the pressures of a growing human population. Over the past two thousand years the island has received waves of settlers of diverse origins including Austronesian, Bantu, Arab, South Asian, Chinese and European. The majority of the population of Madagascar today is a mixture of Austronesian, Bantu, North Indian, Arab and Somali settlers.Centuries of intermarriages created the Malagasy people, who primarily speak Malagasy, an Austronesian language with Bantu, Malay, Arabic, French and English influences. Most of the genetic makeup of the average Malagasy, however, reflects an almost equal blend of Austronesian and Bantu, especially in coastal regions. Other populations often intermixed with the existent population to a more limited degree or have sought to preserve a separate community from the majority Malagasy.

By the Middle Ages, over a dozen predominant ethnic identities had emerged on the island, typified by rule under a local chieftain. Among some communities, such as the Sakalava, Merina and Betsimisaraka, leaders seized the opportunity to unite these disparate communities and establish true kingdoms under their rule. These kingdoms increased their wealth and power through exchanges with European, Arab and other seafaring traders, whether they were legitimate vessels or pirates.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, pirate activity in the coastal areas of Madagascar was common. The purported free pirate colony of Libertatia was established on Île Sainte-Marie, originally populated by local Malagasy. The Sakalava and Merina kingdoms in particular exploited European trade to strengthen the power of their kingdoms, trading Malagasy slaves in exchange for European firearms and other goods. Throughout this time, European and Arab seafarers operating in the Indian Ocean traded with coastal communities, and Europeans made several unsuccessful attempts to claim and colonize the island. Beginning in the early 19th century, the British and French colonial empires competed for influence in Madagascar.

By the turn of the 19th century, King Andrianampoinimerina had reunited the highly populous Kingdom of Imerina, located in the central highlands with its capital at Antananarivo. His son, Radama I, began to exert its authority over the island's other polities and was the first Malagasy sovereign to be recognized by a foreign power as the ruler of the greater Merina Kingdom. Over the 19th century, a series of Merina monarchs engaged in the process of modernization through close diplomatic ties to Britain that led to the establishment of European-style schools, government institutions and infrastructure. Christianity, introduced by members of the London Missionary Society, was made the state religion under Queen Ranavalona II and her prime minister, highly influential statesman Rainilaiarivony. Political wrangling between Britain and France in the 1880s saw Britain recognize France's claim to authority on the island, leading in 1890 to the Malagasy Protectorate, which was unrecognized by the government of Madagascar. The French launched two military campaigns known as the Franco-Hova Wars to force submission, finally capturing the capital in September 1895. This sparked the widespread Menalamba rebellion against French rule that was crushed in 1897; the monarchy was held responsible and dissolved, and the queen and her entourage exiled to Reunion and later Algeria, where she died in 1917. Following conquest, the French abolished Slavery in 1896 and approximately 500,000 slaves were freed.In French Madagascar, Malagasy were required to fulfill corvée labor on French-run plantations, which generated high revenues for the colonial administration. Opportunities for Malagasy to access education or skilled positions within the colonial structure were limited, although some basic services like schools and clinics were extended to coastal areas for the first time. The capital city was largely transformed and modernized, and the royal palaces were transformed into a school and later a museum. Although Malagasy were initially prevented from forming political parties, several militant nationalist secret societies emerged, of which the most prominent was Vy Vato Sakelika, founded by Ny Avana Ramanantoanina.

Many Malagasy were conscripted to fight for France in World Wars I and II, and during the latter Madagascar came under Vichy control before being captured and held by the British in the Battle of Madagascar. At the Brazzaville Conference of 1944, Charles de Gaulle gave colonies the status of overseas territory and the right to representatives in the French National Assembly; when a bill proposed by Malagasy delegates of the Mouvement démocratique de la rénovation malgache for Madagascar's independence was not passed, militant nationalists led an unsuccessful Malagasy uprising (1947–1948), during which the French military committed atrocities that deeply scarred the population. The country gained full independence from France in 1960 in the wake of decolonization.

Under the leadership of President Philibert Tsiranana, Madagascar's First Republic (1960–1972) was established as a democratic system modeled on that of France. This period was characterized by continued economic and cultural dependence upon France, provoking resentment and sparking the rotaka, popular movements among farmers and students that ultimately ushered in the socialist Democratic Republic of Madagascar under Admiral Didier Ratsiraka (1975–1992) distinguished by economic isolationism and political alliances with pro-Soviet states. As Madagascar's economy quickly unraveled, standards of living declined dramatically and growing social unrest was increasingly met with violent repression on the part of the Ratsiraka government. By 1992, free and fair multiparty elections were held, ushering in the democratic Third Republic (1992–2009). Under the new constitution, the Malagasy public elected successive presidents Albert Zafy, Didier Ratsiraka, and Marc Ravalomanana. This latter was ousted in the 2009 Malagasy political crisis by a popular movement under the leadership of Andry Rajoelina, then-mayor of Antananarivo, in what was widely characterized as a coup d'état. Rajoelina ushered in the Malagasy constitutional referendum, 2010 and ruled Madagascar as president of the High Transitional Authority without recognition from the international community. Elections were held on December 20, 2013 to elect a new president and return the country to constitutional governance.

Ironclad (disambiguation)

An ironclad is a wooden ship, or ship of composite construction, sheathed with thick iron plates.

Ironclad may also refer to:

Casemate ironclad, a particular type of ironclad warship in use during the American Civil War-era

Ironclad (film), a 2011 action film

Ironclad (game), a 1973 miniatures wargaming series by Guidon Games

Ironclad (video game), a video game for the Neo Geo CD console

Ironclad (comics), a Marvel comic book supervillain

"Ironclad", a song by Sleater-Kinney from All Hands on the Bad One

"Ironclad", a song by Yngwie Malmsteen from Attack!!

Ironclads (film), a 1991 TNT television film

Ironclads: American Civil War, a computer game

Ironclads: High Seas, a computer game

Operation Ironclad or the Battle of Madagascar, the World War II British occupation of Diego Suarez, Madagascar

Ironclad Games, a video game developer

Legio VI Ferrata (Legion 6 Ironclad), a Roman legion

Ironclad, a steam locomotive on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway

Ishizaki Noboru

Noboru Ishizaki (October 20 1893 – August 9, 1959) was a Japanese rear admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Ishizaki commanded the 8th Submarine Squadron during the Battle of Madagascar.

List of shipwrecks in May 1942

The list of shipwrecks in May 1942 includes all ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during May 1942.

Madagascar in World War II

Madagascar, then officially known as French Madagascar, was still a French colony at the outbreak of the Second World War, having been under French administration since 1885. It played an important role in the war due to the presence of critically important harbors, the contribution of Malagasy troops, and was also the scene of fighting between Allied and Vichy French forces in 1942. After the fall of France in 1940, Madagascar became a crucial flashpoint in contention between the Free French movement and Vichy France. The island was also consequential in the Pacific theater of the war as Imperial Japanese naval forces operated unopposed off the island for some time.

In 1942, the British and several other Allied forces launched an invasion of Madagascar, seeking to protect its position as an important juncture in Allied shipping and deny its use to the Axis. In addition to its role as a key link in the Allied supply lines and major provider of troops, Madagascar was also briefly considered as the solution to the Jewish Question by the government of Nazi Germany who openly floated deporting Europe's Jewish population to the island in 1940. This scheme known as the Madagascar Plan never came to fruition for a variety of reasons. The island was officially handed over from the British to Free France in 1943 under whose control it remained for the remainder of the war.

Mozambique Channel

The Mozambique Channel (French: Canal du Mozambique, Malagasy: Lakandranon'i Mozambika, Portuguese: Canal de Moçambique) is an arm of the Indian Ocean located between the Southeast African countries of Madagascar and Mozambique. The channel is about 1,600 km (1,000 mi) long and 419 km (260 mi) across at its narrowest point, and reaches a depth of 3,292 m (10,800 ft) about 230 km (143 mi) off the coast of Mozambique. A warm current, the Mozambique Current, flows in a southward direction in the channel, leading into the Agulhas Current off the east coast of South Africa.

Redoutable-class submarine (1928)

The Redoutable-class submarines were a group of 31 submarines built between 1924 and 1937 for the French Navy. Most of the class saw service during the Second World War. The class is also known in French as the Classe 1 500 tonnes, and they were designated as "First Class submarines", or "large submarine cruisers". They are known as the Redoutable class in reference to the lead boat Redoutable, in service from 1931 to 1942. The class is divided into two sub-class series, Type I, known as Le Redoutable and Type II, Pascal.

Modern submarines when they were designed, they quickly became outdated, and were approaching obsolescence by the beginning of the Second World War. The conditions of the Armistice of 22 June 1940 prevented the Vichy government from carrying out a modernization programme. 24 out of the 29 units that served in the war were lost. Used in the defence of the Second French colonial empire under the Vichy regime, submarines of the class saw action against Allied offensives at the Battles of Dakar, Libreville and Madagascar. Many of the submarines of the class came under Allied control after the Allied landings in North Africa. Few however saw much further active service after this due to a period of refitting and alterations done in the United States between February 1943 and March 1945. One exception was Casabianca, which took part in the liberation of Corsica. The surviving submarines were largely used for training purposes after the war, with the last of them being disarmed in 1952.

Stephen Melville

General Stephen Alexander Melville, (31 December 1904 – 17 June 1977) was a South African Air Force officer. He commanded air force formations in East Africa, North Africa, Madagascar, and Italy during the Second World War, and rose to Air Chief of Staff (1954–56) and Commandant General of the South African Defence Force (1958–60).


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