Battle of Gabon

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Battle of Gabon
Part of Fighting in French West Africa, World War II
French Equatorial Africa.PNG
Date 8–12 November 1940
Location French Equatorial Africa
Result Allied victory
Free France Free France
 United Kingdom

France Vichy France

Commanders and leaders
Free France Charles de Gaulle
Free France Pierre Koenig
France Marcel Tetu
Casualties and losses
Unknown 1 colonial sloop
1 submarine

The Battle of Gabon or the Battle of Libreville was part of the fighting in French West Africa that occurred in November 1940 as part of World War II. The battle resulted in the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle taking Libreville, Gabon, and taking all of French Equatorial Africa from Vichy French forces.


On 8 October 1940, General de Gaulle arrived in Douala, in French Cameroon. On 12 October, he authorised plans for the invasion of French Equatorial Africa. De Gaulle also wanted to use French Equatorial Africa as a base to launch attacks into Axis-controlled Libya. For this reason, he personally headed northward to survey the situation in Chad, located on the southern border of Libya.[1]

On 27 October, Free French forces crossed into French Equatorial Africa and took the town of Mitzic. On 5 November, the Vichy garrison at Lambaréné capitulated. Meanwhile, the main Free French forces under General Philippe Leclerc and Battalion Chief Marie Pierre Koenig departed from Douala, French Cameroon. Their goal was to take Libreville, French Equatorial Africa.[1]


On 8 November 1940, depth charges from the Shoreham-class sloop HMS Milford damaged the Vichy Redoutable-class submarine Poncelet,[2] which was then scuttled off Port-Gentil.[3] Koenig's forces landed at Pointe La Mondah. His forces included French Legionnaires (including the 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade), Senegalese and Cameroonian troops.[1]

On 9 November, Westland Lysander aircraft operating out of Douala bombed Libreville aerodrome. The aerodrome was eventually captured, despite stiff resistance met by Koenig's force in its approach. Free French naval forces, including the Bougainville-class aviso Savorgnan de Brazza attacked and sank her sister ship, the Vichy French  Bougainville.[4]

On 12 November, the final Vichy forces capitulated at Port Gentil. Governor Masson — despairing of his actions — committed suicide.[1]

Order of battle[edit]

Free French[edit]

Vichy French[edit]


On 15 November, de Gaulle's personal appeal failed to persuade most of the captured Vichy soldiers — including General Marcel Tetu — to join the Free French. As a result, they were interned as prisoners of war in Brazzaville, French Congo for the duration of the war.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Second World War in the French Overseas Empire". Archived from the original on 11 February 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007. 
  2. ^ "Gabon Timeline". Retrieved 28 February 2007. 
  3. ^ Le Masson, Henri (1969). The French Navy. Navies of the Second World War 1. London: MacDonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. p. 154. SBN 356-02384-X. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2012). "FR Bougainville". Allied Warships. Guðmundur Helgason. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 0°23′24″N 9°27′6″E / 0.39000°N 9.45167°E / 0.39000; 9.45167