Chad during World War II

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Durand
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Chad during World War II

Post by Durand » 02 Mar 2004 17:35

Hallo,

Unlike other French colonies, Chad declared its allegiance to the Free French in late 1940. In the book "War without Hate" by John Bierman and Colin Smith, it is implied that British Major Ralph Bagnold, founder of the Long Range Desert Group, and Captain Patrick Clayton, one of Bagnold's subordinates, were instrumental in the colonial government's decision to side with the Free French. In September 1940, Clayton's patrol made its way through Italian territory and made contact with French forces in Chad. In December 1940, Bagnold flew to Fort Lamy in Chad to further develop Clayton's September contact.

Why did Chad declare for the Free French? Was it the only French colony that did not initially side with Vichy? What role did Clayton and Bagnold play in the decision to support the Free French?

Regards,

Durand

*edited 02.03.04 to reflect correct dates.
Last edited by Durand on 03 Mar 2004 04:19, edited 1 time in total.

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DrG
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Re: Chad during World War II

Post by DrG » 02 Mar 2004 22:38

Excellent thread, Durand! I wanted to start it by myself, but you made it a few hours before me! :) :)
I had collected some info about Chad (I'm very interested in the desert war in southern Libya; for those Italians interested, there is a good article in Storia Militare n.63 dic. 1998; it should be still avaible from http://www.tuttostoria.it).
I think I have some corrections for your post.
Durand wrote:Chad declared its allegiance to the Free French in late 1942

Maybe you have done a typo. In fact the governor of Chad, the African Félix Eboué, had proclaimed, along with col. Marchand, Chad’s adhesion to de Gaulle on 16 Aug. 1940.
it is implied that British Major Ralph Bagnold, founder of the Long Range Desert Group, and Captain Patrick Clayton, one of Bagnold's subordinates, were instrumental in the colonial government's decision to side with the Free French.

I'm quite surprised by this, because by Sept. 1940 Eboué had already joined de Gaulle, and it seems it was a decision made only because of his political ideas (of course the fact that he was a black was of some importance for his dislike for the Axis ;)):
L'effondrement de juin 1940 et l'occupation de Paris stupéfient le gouverneur Eboué qui, refusant l'idée de l'armistice, câble, dès le 29 juin, au gouverneur général Boisson sa détermination à maintenir le Tchad dans la guerre. Félix Eboué prend contact avec le général de Gaulle dès le début du mois de juillet. La France Libre est officiellement reconnue par les Britanniques depuis le 7 août et elle peut alors agir ; le 24 août René Pleven et le commandant Colonna d'Ornano envoyés du général de Gaulle parviennent à Fort-Lamy où ils sont accueillis chaleureusement par Félix Eboué, le colonel Marchand et la population.

Le 26 août 1940 le Tchad rallie officiellement la France Libre par décision unanime du gouverneur Eboué et du commandant militaire donnant un exemple immédiatement suivi par la quasi totalité des territoires de l'A.E.F. (Congo - Cameroun - Oubangui-Chari). Au début du mois d'octobre 1940 le général de Gaulle se rend à Fort-Lamy où il rencontre Félix Eboué qu'il nomme, quelques jours plus tard, membre du Conseil de Défense de l'Empire et, le 12 novembre 1940, gouverneur général de l'Afrique Equatoriale Française.

Moreover, the only operation of the LRP (Long Range Patrol) in Chad in 1940 was, AFAIK, a recon as far as Tekro, but I don't know of meeting with politcal personalities.
Lt.col. Ralph Alger Bagnold flew to Fort Lamy in Nov. 1940 and again on 20 Jan. 1941, where he met col. Jean Colonna D'Ornano (the first time) and col. Jacques Leclerc (the second time, in fact meanwhile D'Ornano had been killed during a raid on Murzuch, in South-Western Libya), but they were already officers of de Gaulle's forces, Bagnold didn't have to persuade them.
About the French colonial empire in WW2, there is this useful timeline: http://worldatwar.net/timeline/france/empire40-45.html.

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 03 Mar 2004 01:07

On August 6, 1940 Leclerc left England for Nigeria. On August 27 he is in Yaounde in Cameroun which joins the Free French. On December 2 Leclerc established a Free French basis in Fort-Lamy (Chad).
From end January 1940 to 1st March 1941 : raid on the Koufra Oasis (Lybia) where the Leclerc column takes the Italian fort.
Between March 1945 and January 1943 different attacks and raids from the French on the Fezzan area (SW of Lybia) and finally the area is seized.
On January 26, 1943 Leclerc meets Montgomery in Tripoli. After that his forces fought in Tunisia, Mareth line etc., on March 10 he defeated German armored troops and on 8 May he reaches Tunis.

http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/centraf ... 93960.html

http://worldatwar.net/biography/l/leclerc/

some maps : http://2db.free.fr/cartes_menu.html

David

Durand
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Post by Durand » 03 Mar 2004 04:17

Hallo,

DrG, the date 1942 is definitely a mistake on my part. I do not know what I was thinking at the time and I should have caught it. However, of the three dates I wrote, one of them was 1940. One out of three is not bad, eh? :lol: At any rate, I have edited the post to reflect the correct dates.

In the past I have read a great deal about the Desert War, but it was almost entirely about the main events that took place to the north of Chad. When I read this very small section in the "War Without Hate" about the LRDG and Chad, I did not know, but was a bit suspicious of the notion that Clayton and Bagnold were instrumental in Chad's decision to declare for the Free French. My curiosity leads me many places, so I thought I would ask about this issue.

DrG wrote:

Moreover, the only operation of the LRP (Long Range Patrol) in Chad in 1940 was, AFAIK, a recon as far as Tekro, but I don't know of meeting with politcal personalities.


My knowledge of the events is limited only to what is in this book. To give you all a better idea of my understanding or misunderstanding of the topic I will expand a bit more on the position in "War Without Hate". It reflects only that Clayton's patrol made its way through Italian territory to Chad and made contact with French forces in September 1940. Unfortunately, there is no discussion regarding who they met, the nature of the meeting, or where it occured. From the way the authors present the information, one gets the impression that Clayton's objective was to meet the French in Chad. Thank you for the information on Tekro as the location.

In December 1940, Bagnold flew to Fort Lamy and Chad declares for the Free French. Immediately following, the LRDG and French forces combined to raid Murzuk and then to assault the Italian fort at Kufra. The French forces tipped the scales toward an Allied victory at Kufra because they had heavy artillery which the LRDG did not carry for its operations. In April 1941, the LRDG moved its headquarters to Kufra. In deference to a request from De Gaulle, Bagnold ordered the French Tricolor to fly beside the Union Jack.

DrG and David, my thanks to you both for the information. I am looking forward to seeing if we can flesh out the story a bit more.

Best Regards,

Durand

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 03 Mar 2004 15:56

Many thanks to Panzermeyer for his links, those maps were exactly what I was looking for! :) In fact it's often a problem to know the French names of Libyc places (for example Mourzouk instead of the Italian Murzuch or Murzuk, or El Djof instead of el Giof). If people is interested, I've a map showing the parth of the LRDG raid in Murzuk and Chad in Dec. 1940 / Jan. 1941 and Italian maps of Libya (they may be useful for the names of places). I can post scans of those maps, if somebody may need them.
In December 1940, Bagnold flew to Fort Lamy and Chad declares for the Free French. Immediately following, the LRDG and French forces combined to raid Murzuk and then to assault the Italian fort at Kufra. The French forces tipped the scales toward an Allied victory at Kufra because they had heavy artillery which the LRDG did not carry for its operations. In April 1941, the LRDG moved its headquarters to Kufra.

Except for some dates, and for the overestimation of the political importance of Bagnold's mission, that text isn't wrong.
About Cufra (Kufra, Koufra) you are perfectly right: the French were determinant in that siege thanks to their artillery, that bombed the fort from a distance larger than the range of Italian weapons (the largest caliber were 4 Breda 20mm heavy AA machineguns). Instead the LRDG ("T" patrol, led by col. Clayton: 11 truks and 30 men) suffered heavy casualties in a battle fought 60 miles south of Cufra against the 2a Compagnia Mobile Sahariana (led by cap. Moreschini: 5 truks A.S.37 armed with Breda 20mm and 44 men). The T patrol lost 3 truks and a soldier, then retreated to the South, but was discovered in Bishara by Italian recon planes and attacked again by the Sahariana: the truck of Clayton was damaged, he and the crew were captured (Clayton was then transferred to the POW camp n° 78 of Sulmona, Italy).

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 03 Mar 2004 16:12

Does anybody know what was the fate of the Italian garrison of Cufra? I have read that the 64 Italians and 352 Libyans were allowed by the French to reach the oasis of Tazerbo (Taizerbo). Was then Tazerbo occupied? By who? I've found in this page http://blindkat.fateback.com/lrdg/lrdgchron.html this info: 31 March 1941 R patrol [of LRDG] sets a standing patrol around Tazerbo.
Is it correct? By the way, does this mean that Tazerbo was more or less besieged or that it was already occupied? :?

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 03 Mar 2004 18:04

Hello,

The French had a single 75mm Mle1928 Schneider mountain gun in Koufra ... otherwise only MGs and rifles.

In Chad Leclerc had at disposal 5000 Senegalese tirailleurs from the RTST (Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais du Tchad) spread in 20 companies in different garrissons, and also 3 meharist groups (GN = groupe nomade) in 3 areas : Borkou, Tibesti and Ennedi.

In 1931, Graziani took Koufra thanks to 3000 men, armored cars, 1 artillery battery and about 20 planes.
Koufra is now important because :
- it is an oasis
- it controls the access to the Fezzan area
- there is a radio-gonio post to guide the Italian aircrafts to the Buma airfield

In the El Tag fort defending the oasis the Italian colonel Leo had 580 Ascaris and various Italian detachment (engineers, signals etc.) but he had also the Compania Saharina di Cufra (Saharinas armed with MGs and 20mm guns) (Captains Mattioli and Moreschini). The fort itself is defended by Scwharzlose and Fiat 1914/35 MGs as well as 20mm Breda guns.

1) In January 1941 : raid on Mourzouck from Lieutenant-Colonel Colonna d'Ornano in collaboration with LRDG patrols (Major Clayton). French raiders coming from Chad and British raiders coming from Egyptia made their junction on January 6 at Kayougue. On January 11 Mourzouck is reached and attacked. One New-Zealand soldier and the Lieutenant-Colonel Colonna d'Ornano are KIAs.
Several other French meharist raids were organiazed in order to have a better idea of the Italian order of battle and status.

2) The LRDG under the authority of Leclerc for the later Koufra raid were assigned the task to neutralize the Saharina di Cufra :
22 Chevrolets, 2 Fords and a French detachment from the GN Tibesti (Lieutenant Dubut) with one Brandt 81mm Mle27/31 mortar.
The column is spotted by the Italians and attacked in the Djebel Cherif. After 1 hour of battle the LRDG lost 4 vehicles, several KIAs, MIAs (including Clayton) and several men who escaped in the desert, later rescued by French forces.
All the LRDG except one vehicle + crew (who remained with the French troops) returned to Egyptia.

3) The Koufra raid : Initially the Leclerc column is made up of 101 "white" French troops and 295 Senegalese and Chadian colonial soldiers : 396 men ; but several vehicles and their men were not available for the attack because of mechanical breakdowns.

They had to travel 1650km before reaching the objective.

- HQ : 1 Matford, 2 Chevrolet 1t, 2 Bedford 1.5t and one ER26bis radio
- 1 reduced infantry company (Captain Rennepont) with 23 Bedford 1.5t
- 2 platoons of the GN Ennedi (120 men) (Captain Barboten) with 1 dodge and 16 Matford V8 3t
- 1 platoon of the 7th Company of the RTST (60 men) (Captain Florentin) with 1 dodge and 2 Matford V8 3t
- 1 artillery platoon (Lieutenant Ceccaldi) with 2 75mm Mle1928 Schneider mountain guns, 1 dodge, 2 Laffly S15 for the guns, 2 Laffly S15 for the ammunitions and 2 Matford V8 3t .... but only 1 gun reached the battle.
- 1 armored cars "group" (Adjudant Detouche) : 2 Laffly S15TOE (armed only with a 7.5mm MG), 1 Matford V8 3t and 1 ER26bis/39 radio.

Only about 350 men (armed with Lebel 1886/93 rifles, some 8mm Hotchkiss Mle1914 MMGs and FM 24/29 LMGs), 2 light armored cars armed with a single 7.5mm MG and one 75mm gun reached Koufra to face the Italian garrison waiting for and attack in well prepared position and the Compania Saharina di Cufra. Four Saharinas with their 20mm guns were captured in Koufra and immediately used by the French forces.

The AMD Laffly S15 TOE is not only a recon armored car, it is an hybrid vehicle armored car and armored personnal carrier which can carry small infantry groups of 4-6 men.
weight : 5t
crew : 3 men
maximum armor : 7mm
maximum speed : 60 km/h
autonomy : 1000 km
armament : a 7.5mm turret MAC1931

On February 17, 1941 at 15.00 PM the French engaged combat with the Saharina company which had no problems destroying the trucks with their 20mm guns but thay were forced to retreat a first time. The French forces encircled the fort and prevented the Compania Saharina di Cufra to enter in El Tag. The Saharina escaped towards Tazerbo.
French in fact had weaker forces to take the fort and the Italians never sent reinforcements to the fort, only a few planes attacked the French troops.
The single French 75mm gun is at first positionned at 3000m of the fort and opens fire (40 shells the first day and then about 20 shells perd day). This unique gun is constantly moved to give the feeling that there are many guns. On March 1, 1941 the Italian troops surrendered and were allowed to go away but I have no precisions about where and in which conditions. I think it should be towards Tazerbo like the remnants of the Compania Saharina di Cufra ... On March 31 is perhaps besieged but in February and beginning March probably not.

(info found in the magazine "Histoire de Guerre" n°30, November 2002)

Regards,

David

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 03 Mar 2004 19:25

Thank you for the info. :) I've these comments:
Panzermeyer wrote:The French had a single 75mm Mle1928 Schneider mountain gun in Koufra ... otherwise only MGs and rifles.

AFAIK, besides the 75mm gun, they had also 2 37mm guns and 4 81mm mortars, 4 machineguns and 26 LMG.
Koufra is now important because :
- it is an oasis
- it controls the access to the Fezzan area
- there is a radio-gonio post to guide the Italian aircrafts to the Buma airfield

It certainly didn't control the access to Fezzan (if, with Fezzan, we are speaking about S-W Libya): that area was under the control of Murzuk. And in fact Fezzan was occupied only at the end of 1942, after its evacuation by the Italian garrisons because of the British advace after el Alamein.
About Buma, it was only a tiny airport for local recon airplanes, it had very limited importance (if any).
In the El Tag fort defending the oasis the Italian colonel Leo had 580 Ascaris and various Italian detachment (engineers, signals etc.) but he had also the Compania Saharina di Cufra (Saharinas armed with MGs and 20mm guns) (Captains Mattioli and Moreschini). The fort itself is defended by Scwharzlose and Fiat 1914/35 MGs as well as 20mm Breda guns.

In my previous post I've listed the number of survivors at the end of the siege (64 Italians and 352 Libyc). In another source istead the initial forces in Cufra are listed as follows:
59a and 60a compagnie mitraglieri
compagnia sahariana
20mm battery
for a total of only 367 men, commanded by a captain (?).
I don't know why there is such a difference among various sources. :?

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Post by David Lehmann » 03 Mar 2004 19:53

I don't know how it is supposed to "control" the access to Fezzan ... just south there is a very mountaineous area (Tibesti ?) ... perhaps it controls a road, or more likely it is one on the rare oasis in the region ... perhaps the "road" when coming from NE of Lybia leading towards Fezzan passes in Koufra.

No info on my side about mortars in the Koufra column ... I have heard of a few 37mm guns but it is a field assembly of a 37mm SA18 gun on trucks (the same gun that you can find on the FT17c and the R-35 tanks in France). Only useful against MG nests.
The MGs are Hotchkiss ones and the LMGs are FM 24/29.

David

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Post by DrG » 03 Mar 2004 20:51

Panzermeyer wrote:I don't know how it is supposed to "control" the access to Fezzan ... just south there is a very mountaineous area (Tibesti ?) ... perhaps it controls a road, or more likely it is one on the rare oasis in the region ... perhaps the "road" when coming from NE of Lybia leading towards Fezzan passes in Koufra.

Probably it's only a mistake of your source. Look at this map of Libya of 1943: el Giof (here it's written only Giof: it's hard to find it, it's above the name "Chebabo"; near Giof there is Buema, another spelling for Buma) is hundreds of km far from Fezzan, and the only route from it to Fezzan was controlled by Tazerbo, and it was a very difficult way to reach that western region. And in fact the forces of Leclerc advanced to Fezzan directly from Chad in 1942, from the best route.
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Post by Durand » 03 Mar 2004 21:00

Hallo Gentlemen,

I am completely out of my depth on this topic and, unfortunately, I nothing more to offer than my thanks to you both. The information you provide is very interesting and is greatly appreciated. I am sincerely enjoying learning about this little covered aspect of the Desert War. It never fails to amaze me how much knowledge is contained within the AHF community.

Best Regards,

Durand

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Post by DrG » 03 Mar 2004 21:34

You are welcome, Durand. :)
Since this topic is about WW2 in Chad, I'd like to talk about the only (AFAIK) mission of Italians in that colony. I've read of it only in this article: http://www.centroitalicum.it/giornale_1999/tilgher34-99.htm (it's rather cofused, no dates or names of people are given). It was an intelligence mission made to find reliable info about the presence of American equipment and maybe even soldiers in Chad. An Italian lieutennant of the squadron of Meharisti of Sciati (a region to the north of Murzuk, see the map) and a column of Ascari chosen among the best ones of the cabiles of Soleiman, Uadi el Agial and Brakper, all disguised as Arab merchants, reached the market of Bourkou (a region in central-northern Chad) and shot some photos of the American vehicles that were in the area.

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Sahariana in the fight of djebel Chérif

Post by attilio » 10 Apr 2005 22:13

I have found a different composition of the sahariana that fought with the T patrol of LRDG next to djebel Chérif:
The trucks used were 4 FIAT 634 and only one TL 37 with 4 Breda 20 mm
Source: report of Lt. Minutillo february 2 1941


Best regards

Attilio Del Rosso

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Post by robc » 17 Oct 2005 15:42

I have described in depth all that is currently known about the Sahariana "Cufra" and the fights with the LRDG and the Free French up to the capture of the Kufra oasis in my article, just recently published in the Italian magazine "Storia & Battaglie", issue 49, July-August 2005. The magazine is published by Editoriale Lupo, the Editor may be contacted at raidit[at]newnet.it , though I don't know if it is possible to order outside of Italy.

After perusing more than 50 different sources in three languages for a couple of years, I am forced to believe that what I have stated there is correct and almost definitve, though I'm eager to find new sources, contrasting ones as well, on the subject... Bear in mind that a lot has been told, some of it downright false, even in the official British and New Zealand War Records, for example about Capt. Clayton being wounded by a plane (which is false, since no aircraft with weapons of that calibre were flying on the Jebel Sherif) or about the presence of Italian armoured vehicles (which were completely nonexistent in the whole of North Africa at the time).

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CHAD was very popular in WW2

Post by British Sapper » 20 Oct 2005 05:23

My Dad says that CHAD was on the back of every toilet door from Liverpool to Bombay.

Usually it said stuff like .......WOT, NO PAPER ?

This was obviously aimed at wartime rationing.


Apparently, it was social humour in WW2.

There used to be a cartoon drawing of Chad with the comments too, also he was bald and peeping up from behind a brick wall :lol: A bit like this emoticon I guess.

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