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Imperialism | Colonial Policy

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Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by the German Colonial Society, 1918, The War in Kamerun

The War in Kamerun.

(p.15) Report of the outbreak of the war reached Duala on August 1st. The governor moved his residence from Buea to Duala, where a war office was established, on August 15th. Here an interlude occurred in the first days of August, as obstructionism by the Duala population, the beginnings of which date years back, and which have been caused by an expropriation decree which had become necessary for hygienic reasons, caused the execution of the well-known chief Manga Bell. Duala was protected against the seaside by blocking the Kamerun River, which was achieved by sinking several steamers there.
In 1914 Kamerun disposed over a Schutztruppe of 185 white and 1550 black soldiers and a police force of 30 whites and c. 1200 natives. The adjacent British Nigeria had c. 6600 coloured troops and c. 380 whites, French Equatorial Africa c. 6000 men coloured troops, of whom only a small part was used against Kamerun. In addition the British and French assembled a large number of warships in the waters of Kamerun.
While hostile operations commenced relatively late in the coastal waters, the French in the interior became very active in order to regain that part of Kamerun which had become German in consequence of the Morocco Treaty of 1911. The fact that they, because of the development of their radio telegraphic service in the Congo (p.16), were able to report the news of the outbreak of the war to Lake Chad within hours, while the German side in Neukamerun noticed this only when the French guns fired, made it easier for them. It is characteristic for the French interpretation of international agreements, that in regard to the steps taken by the German government immediately after the war broke out to neutralize the conventional basin of the Congo, of which Neukamerun almost in its entirety forms part, France regarded itself bound to the Belgian suggestion of neutrality until August 16th. Despite of that, France opened hostilities against Neukamerun on August 7th. On August 5th a column of 300 soldiers marched off from Bangui, which, at midnight on August 7th arrived at the German customs checkpoint Singa and took it by surprise. Simultaneously a French detachment from Fort Lamy attempted to take Kusseri; this attempt undertaken with superior forces was repelled under great losses.
Early in September the British moved from Nigeria against Kamerun's north western border, while another detachment, lead by traitorous Duala men, penetrated into Kamerun along the coast. Duala was blocked by enemy warships since the first days of September, but except minor attempts nothing was undertaken to force passage.
On September 26th French reinforcements from Dakar arrived; now the British cruiser "Challenger" entered the bay and took Duala under fire. On September 27th the undefended Duala surrendered, and an Anglo-French troop contingent was landed. Previously the Germans had destroyed the radio telegraph station near Duala.
Early in December 1914 all open coastal places, including Buea and Edea, had been occupied by the enemy. More fortunate was the situation in the interior of the old colony. The station Garua on the Benue had been held despite heavy British attacks, in which the latter had lost 11 officers and 300 men. And even against the coastal places in the south, occupied by the enemy, early in 1915 successful German attacks were undertaken, which caused the French troops stationed there to withdraw. So the events in Kamerun for the time being lead to a certain standstill caused by the necessity to bring in large numbers of carriers and reinforcements from the adjacent British and French colonies. This was achieved in fall 1915, and the opponents renewed their efforts to reach their goal. This became easier, when Garua, after several only partially successful attempts to break through, surrendered on June 10th 1915, Ngaundere on June 27th, and Banyo had to be evacuated on October 24th. The German forces withdrew to the main force at Jaunde.
In the North only the 3rd company held Mora.
All in all Britain and France now placed 30,000 men in the field against the small German force, weakened by the long tropical campaign; the Anglo-French force disposed over unrestricted supplies, while the German side experienced a lack in the most necessary items, a situation which got worse the closer the enemy got to the Jaunde fortress. When this fortress could no longer be held, at the turn from 1915 to 1916 Jaunde was evacuated and the remaining defenders, 900 whites and 14,000 blacks, marched on neighbouring Spanish Rio Muni, where they were disarmed and placed under Spanish protection. The whites, for the larger part, were transferred to Spain and interned there. Those who became French prisoners suffered a bad fate. As in the case of the Togo Germans they were transferred into the murder camp in Dahomey, from where they could be liberated only after the German government had taken most serious steps.
The detachment under siege at Mora, under the command of Captain von Raben, despite most serious lack in many things, succeeded in holding out until February 18th 1916. When ammunition ran out, they surrendered to the superior British forces, not defeated by the enemy, but by the conditions.


Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch, (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by P. Sprigade und M. Moisel, Surveys and retrospects by Dr. Karstedt. Berlin 1918, p.15f

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