The Sultan's harem
after the bombardment.
The Anglo-Zanzibar War
was a military conflict fought between the United Kingdom
and the Zanzibar Sultanate
on 27 August 1896. The conflict lasted between 38 and 45 minutes, marking it as the shortest recorded war in history. The immediate cause of the war was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini
on 25 August 1896 and the subsequent succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash
. The British authorities preferred Hamud bin Muhammed
, who was more favourable to British interests, as sultan. In the agreement of 14 June 1890 instituting a British protectorate over Zanzibar, a candidate for accession to the sultanate should obtain the permission of the British consul, and Khalid had not fulfilled this requirement. The British considered this a casus belli
and sent an ultimatum to Khalid demanding that he order his forces to stand down and leave the palace. In response, Khalid called up his palace guard and barricaded himself inside the palace.
The ultimatum expired at 09:00 East Africa Time
(EAT) on 27 August, by which time the British had gathered three cruisers, two gunboats, 150 marines and sailors, and 900 Zanzibaris in the harbour area. The Royal Navy contingent were under the command of Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson
and the pro-Anglo Zanzibaris were commanded by Brigadier-General Lloyd Mathews
of the Zanzibar army (who was also the First Minister
of Zanzibar). Around 2,800 Zanzibaris defended the palace; most were recruited from the civilian population, but they also included the sultan's palace guard and several hundred of his servants and slaves. The defenders had several artillery pieces and machine guns, which were set in front of the palace sighted at the British ships. A bombardment, opened at 09:02, set the palace on fire and disabled the defending artillery. A small naval action took place, with the British sinking the Zanzibari royal yacht HHS Glasgow
and two smaller vessels. Some shots were also fired ineffectually at the pro-British Zanzibari troops as they approached the palace. The flag at the palace was shot down and fire ceased at 09:46. (Full article...