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The Gold Coast Brigade’s Crossing of the Juba River, Italian Somaliland, February 1941

In: International Journal of Military History and Historiography
Author:
Timothy StapletonDepartment of History, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, timothy.stapleton@ucalgary.ca

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Abstract

In February 1941, West African troops conducted an opposed crossing of the Juba River in Italian Somaliland that, together with a South African crossing to the south, became a decisive action of the East Africa campaign of the Second World War. After the Juba was breached, Italian resistance in Somaliland crumbled with British imperial forces originating in Kenya taking Mogadishu in a few days and advancing into Ethiopia. Based on archival documents, this article pursues two aims. The first is to recover the little-known contribution of West African units during an important Second World War campaign. The second is to present the British-led West African action at Juba as an example of a successful river crossing long considered among the most difficult military operations. The intention is to provide an African example of operational military history traditionally dominated by case studies related to Europe, North America, and Asia.

Abstract

In February 1941, West African troops conducted an opposed crossing of the Juba River in Italian Somaliland that, together with a South African crossing to the south, became a decisive action of the East Africa campaign of the Second World War. After the Juba was breached, Italian resistance in Somaliland crumbled with British imperial forces originating in Kenya taking Mogadishu in a few days and advancing into Ethiopia. Based on archival documents, this article pursues two aims. The first is to recover the little-known contribution of West African units during an important Second World War campaign. The second is to present the British-led West African action at Juba as an example of a successful river crossing long considered among the most difficult military operations. The intention is to provide an African example of operational military history traditionally dominated by case studies related to Europe, North America, and Asia.

Introduction

The crossing of the Juba River by British imperial forces in Italian Somaliland in February 1941 represented a pivotal moment in the East Africa campaign of the Second World War. Once the natural defensive barrier of the river was penetrated and the port of Kismayo near its mouth captured, Italian morale collapsed allowing British imperial forces to advance rapidly to take Mogadishu up the Somali coast in a few days and enter mountainous Ethiopia to liberate Addis Ababa in April.1 According to a British official war history, “The forcing of the Juba line proved to be the most decisive action not only in the battle for Somaliland but also the whole campaign fought by the East African Force”.2 While the East Africa campaign has not attracted the same interest from historians as other theatres of the war, the role of South African troops in the region and particularly their crossing of the lower section of the Juba River close to the coast has been comparatively well documented.3 However, the contribution of West African forces to the campaign, including the Juba crossing, remains poorly studied. Reflecting this broader historiographical impoverishment, the few published accounts of the West African crossing of the Juba offer brief summaries of events and most are now many decades old.4 Based on Gold Coast Regiment (gcr) and Nigeria Regiment war diaries housed at the United Kingdom National Archives (Kew), this article examines the river crossing operation conducted by 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade in February 1941. Besides attempting to recover and flesh out a lost element of West and East Africa’s Second World War history, the article highlights this event as an example of a successful combat river crossing worthy of attention by students of military operations. In general, Africa’s operational military history is not well integrated into broader military history which draws most of its classic battlefield examples from Europe, North America and sometimes Asia. This situation developed because, in the main, African military history emerged as a distinct scholarly field after traditional operational history had become unpopular in the wider academy with most military themed works on Africa adopting a war and society or social history approach.5 Nevertheless, African military history including the East Africa campaign of the Second World War offers numerous lessons of operational success and failure.

Classic military theorists recognized that projecting offensive military power across a river represents some of the most challenging military operations. Hinting at the importance of the attacking force maintaining momentum after the crossing, Sun Tzu warned commanders that “After crossing a river, you should get far away from it”.6 Clausewitz introduced his chapter on the topic by explaining that “A large river which crosses the direction of the attack is always very inconvenient for the assailant … without a decided superiority, both in moral and physical force, a general will not place himself in such a position”.7 Indeed, a recent assessment of contemporary Russian military capabilities states that “Conducting an opposed crossing of a river in combat conditions is one of the most difficult tasks for a unit to execute”.8 In short, military forces conducting an opposed crossing of an obstacle like a river or canal become extremely vulnerable to enemy fire and therefore may struggle to establish a bridgehead on the other side let alone break out of that bridgehead. This has represented a consistent problem for military leaders from ancient times to the era of mechanised warfare.9 The Second World War offers several famous examples of large-scale river crossing operations including the Allied failure in the overly ambitious Operation Market-Garden during September 1944 and the Allied success in pushing across the Rhine during Operation Plunder in March 1945. Another example, the Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal at the start of the 1973 Arab Israeli War included a successful crossing but then a failed exploitation. A recent study of these well-known river crossings identifies three critical elements of a successful operation; rapid employment of overwhelming strength, provision of river crossing resources despite existing bridges and a plan to break out of the bridgehead.10 Similarly, the United States Army and Marine Corps of the 1990s considered six factors critical to the success of a river crossing; surprise, extensive preparation, flexible plan, traffic control, organization and speed.11 Although a smaller action than the above examples, the Gold Coast Brigade’s crossing of the Juba in 1941 highlights the importance of all these factors plus others such as combined arms operations involving mechanized infantry, armour, artillery and engineers, and the use of combat power and deception to pin enemy forces to one section of the river to facilitate crossing at another.

Background

The West African brigade that crossed the Juba in February 1941 comprised British-led colonial troops from the Gold Coast (today’s Ghana). Originating from late nineteenth century para-military forces that fought wars of colonial conquest in West Africa, Britain’s Royal West African Frontier Force (rwaff) emerged at the start of the twentieth century as an administrative structure for the territorially based regiments of Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia. During most of the colonial period, the rwaff focused primarily on maintaining internal security in Britain’s West African territories with the secondary aims of defending the borders of these colonies from other European powers and providing manpower for expeditionary forces in other parts of Africa such as during the First World War. A racially hierarchical organization typical of the colonial era, the rwaff comprised a small number of British officers and nco s at the top and a locally recruited West African rank-and-file originating mostly from remote hinterland communities with limited economic and educational opportunities and characterized as inherently martial in the colonial imagination. Maintaining British rule with limited expense, these small regiments included light infantry with simple weapons, uniforms and equipment, a tiny field artillery component and no logistical or transport infrastructure. During colonial campaigns in West Africa, these regiments were sometimes transported on trains or steamboats but mostly marched to their destinations. Soldiers’ wives or other civilian women cooked for their husbands including a few who accompanied these units on campaign.12

The structure and capabilities of Britain’s African colonial army began to change in the late 1930s with the prospect of a new world war that could potentially involve colonial Africa through an Italian alliance with Germany. In 1937 British officials developed a war plan that involved dispatching a West African expeditionary force made up of a brigade from each of Nigeria and Gold Coast to Kenya to counter a threat from adjacent Italian colonial territories. In turn, and under the direction of the energetic General George Giffard, the rwaff embarked on rapid military modernization and expansion. While wireless radios had been introduced early in the 1930s, old Vickers and Lewis machine guns were exchanged for newer Bren light machineguns, anti-tank rifles and mortars, and gas masks and boots were issued given the threat of Italian chemical warfare as seen during the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia. To meet the demands of future mechanized operations in the open environments of East Africa, driver training commenced with 200 drivers trained in Nigeria and 100 in the Gold Coast. New support units such as signals, transport, field engineering and medical were formed. Furthermore, to fill out three full-strength battalions from each of Nigeria and Gold Coast and to enlist literate soldiers prepared to work in new technical roles, officials mounted recruiting drives in southern coastal communities previously designated as non-martial given their greater access to western education and incorporation into the colonial economy. To facilitate this upgrading process and thoroughly mobilize for war, Britain’s West African forces were removed from their usual Colonial Office administrative jurisdiction and placed under the War Office which established West Africa Command (wac) under Giffard in 1940.13

Although some British officials still held reservations about deploying what they considered as inferior African colonial troops against European adversaries, Britain’s dire situation in the early part of the Second World War prompted the deployment of West Africans units to East Africa.14 The two West African brigades arrived in Kenya in late June 1940 and were assigned to different divisions. 23 (Nigeria) Brigade joined 21 (East Africa) Brigade which was largely comprised of the locally based King’s African Rifles (kar) to form 11 (Africa) Division that initially deployed to the Tana River area in eastern Kenya to monitor the border with Italian Somaliland. 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade, under First World War veteran Brigadier C. E. M. “Piggy” Richards who had recently commanded the gcr in West Africa, and 22 (East Africa) Brigade formed 12 (Africa) Division and moved to Kenya’s arid northern frontier near the border with Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia. These forces initially became involved in patrol activity along the borders of Italian territory. In Kenya, the West African units transformed into a mechanized force taking delivering of many motor vehicles imported to the region for the campaign and learning how to cooperate with light armour formations. This was an entirely new way of war for the West African troops, but it suited the many open areas and long distances of East Africa. Although 1 Nigeria Regiment conducted a failed attack on an Italian position near Wajir at the end of July, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade cooperated with 1 (South Africa) Brigade in a decisive large-scale raid on the enemy frontier positions around El Wak in December.15 Confirming the effectiveness of 1 gcr as a combat unit, the operational report on El Wak praised its attack on the main Italian position and stated that “This battalion had never previously been under shell fire and I consider they behaved very well under this ordeal”.16 By the start of 1941, a typical West African battalion in Kenya consisted of almost 1000 men with around 40 British officers, 40 British nco s and 850 African rank-and-file organized into four rifle companies and a headquarters company with mortars. In addition, each battalion operated a fleet of around 60 to 100 vehicles comprising various types of trucks with each rifle company transported in around 12 to 18 vehicles and headquarters company having 20 or more.17

In the broad context of the war, East Africa represented a strategically important region as an Italian navy flotilla based at the port of Massawa on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea blocked Allied shipping through the vital Suez Canal which undermined forces in the eastern Mediterranean. Entering the war on the side of Germany after the fall of France in June 1940, the Italians quickly launched an offensive in East Africa conquering British Somaliland and pushing into Sudan and the northern frontier of Kenya. However, while the relatively large Italian force lacked supplies given the British naval blockade, British imperial forces increased in East Africa with the arrival of units from India, South Africa and West Africa, and the delivery of supplies, equipment, vehicles, aircraft, and weapons. By the end of 1940, British commander in East Africa, General Sir Alan Cunningham was preparing a counter-offensive from Sudan and Kenya, and eventually an amphibious landing in occupied British Somaliland. In Kenya, the main problems in mounting such an offensive were the extremely long supply lines between the railway around Nairobi and the Italian Somaliland border, the lack of water in the arid area and the need to defeat the Italians before the onset of serious rains around April hampered movement. As such, the British intention to capture the port of Kismayo near the mouth of the Juba River became central to solving these logistical problems. After the El Wak raid, the Italians along the Kenya frontier pulled back inside Somaliland and established a series of defensive positions along the Juba River which represented the only major geographic obstacle to an eastward British advance toward Mogadishu. Following hundreds of miles down from the mountains of Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, the Juba’s width ranges from several miles to about 150 yards and is characterized by a long strip of tropical vegetation cutting through an otherwise arid environment. West of Juba, the Italians deployed a colonial battalion as a screen and defended the important well and crossroads at Afmadu (Afmadow) from where one road headed south to Kismayo and another east to Gelib on the Juba and eventually up the coast to Mogadishu. Smaller than the British believed, the Italian force defending Italian Somaliland comprised two colonial divisions, one infantry brigade in reserve and various irregular formations totalling around 20 000 men, 84 artillery pieces and 15 armoured cars. The Italians also operated aircraft but the British capture of airfields early in the offensive limited enemy air operations. The British offensive from Kenya into Italian Somaliland began on 11 February with the capture of the Italian position at Afmadu.18

24 (Gold Coast) Brigade conducted around a month of training in preparation for crossing the Juba. Around Christmas 1940, the brigade concentrated in south-central Kenya around Nanyuki at the foot of Mount Kenya. In early January 1941, 1 gcr and 3 gcr moved to a camp at the mile 64 marker along the Nairobi-Garissa Road where they conducted platoon level training in patrolling and river crossing. Based at Maviani, 2 gcr conducted a river crossing exercise on the Muita Chana River (Siano River) in eastern Kenya. At the end of January, the three gcr battalions moved to new camps around Garissa on the banks of the Tana River and closer to the border of Italian Somaliland. On the Tana, Kenya’s longest river, the Gold Coast troops continued training with collapsible assault boats that each carried 10 men and they progressed through company, battalion and eventually a brigade level river crossing exercise. However, officers considered the brigade exercise “a bit of a shambles”.19 The brigade also focused on chemical warfare defence as there was some anxiety about the potential use of mustard gas by the Italians who had deployed it during their invasion of Ethiopia. Commenting on the training with collapsible boats, a British platoon commander in 3gcr remembered that “the results of our exertions were hardly such as to inspire us with great confidence in forcing an opposed crossing of the Juba”.20

Around 8 and 9 February 1941, and considering the threat from Italian aircraft, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade began a series of night vehicle moves from Garissa eastward across the border into Somaliland. The brigade column, totalling 900 vehicles with many inexperienced drivers bumped along sandy bush tracks achieving an average of about 5 miles per hour during darkness and 10 miles per hour during daylight.21 3gcr’s Lieutenant Packham described “travelling by night, and halting during the day under such cover as the thorn bushes afforded and getting what sleep we could on the sand. Our rations comprised one tin of bully beef and six biscuits a day, and we had the usual allowance of one gallon of water a day for all purposes”.22 The three Gold Coast battalions drove through Liboi on the Kenyan side of the border where they stored non-essential equipment at a depot. Driving into Somaliland, on 11 February, the Gold Coast units moved through Afmadu which had been captured by 22 (East Africa) Brigade earlier that day and established staging areas about 40 miles down the Afmadu-Gelib Road on route to Juba. With a squadron of the East Africa Armoured Car Regiment (eaacr) under command, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade was directed to secure a bridgehead on the Juba around Gelib allowing other brigades to pass through and advance deeper into Somaliland. Since the Italians heavily defended the main crossing of the Juba at Gelib, a major part of the Gold Coast mission was to locate another more viable crossing point to enable an envelopment of Gelib.23 In formulating the broad offensive plan, British East Africa Force commander Lieutenant General Cunningham gave 12 (Africa) Division latitude to find a viable crossing anywhere and he planned to bring up 11 (Africa) Division to widen the frontage of the search if necessary.24 Simultaneously, a South African brigade to the south would capture Kismayo and secure a crossing along the lower Juba near the coast.25

Capture of Bulo Erillo

Bulo Erillo represented 24 Brigade’s first objective in crossing the Juba River. The Italian position there was strongly defended with barbed wire, landmines, tank traps, machineguns with interlocking arcs of fire, firing lanes cut through the bush, artillery and the first enemy armoured cars encountered by Gold Coast troops. At Bulo Erillo, the Juba split into two branches that formed an island about 20 miles long and 5 or more miles wide. The west branch represented a dry channel or “Dry Juba” and the east branch a flowing river called the “Wet Juba”. Bulo Erillo lay on the west side of the “Dry Juba”, Allessandra was a village set among banana plantations on the island and Gelib was located on the east side of the “Wet Juba” at the main crossing point. About 10 miles separated Bulo Erillo and Gelib. The road from Afmadu to Gelib and eventually Mogadishu ran across the lower part of this island feature. From this island, parallel tracks ran along both sides of the Juba heading north towards Bardera and south towards Kismayo.26 In taking Bulo Erillo, 24 Brigade would force the Italians to focus on defend the main crossing places on the south end of the island.

The first thing the Gold Coasters had to determine was what kind of enemy positions defended Bulo Erillo. At 0700 on 12 February, 2 gcr dispatched a patrol consisting of B Company and an understrength squadron of armoured cars to conduct a reconnaissance in force down the road to the “kink” in the Juba River around Bulo Erillo. After observing some Italian troops and exchanging fire with them, the patrol withdrew experiencing some ineffective enemy shelling around a crossroads.27 During the late morning and noon, the gcr battalions held orders groups to disseminate the plan for an attack on Bulo Erillo. While 2 gcr would secure the objective by attacking from the south and southeast, 1 gcr would block the road between Bulo Erillo and Gelib to stop reinforcements from reaching the former and intercept fleeing enemy from the latter. 3 gcr would provide force protection for these manoeuvres.28

As the sun began to set around 1815, elements of 3 gcr began moving into position. About half of 3 gcr formed a defended area for 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade headquarters and 4 Gold Coast Field Ambulance along the Afmadu-Gelib Road. In addition, a combined force of A Company 3 gcr, B Company 1/3 kar plus an anti-tank battery all transported by truck and led by B Squadron eaacr advanced further east to a road junction three miles west of Bulo Erillo. They established a secure dismounting and assembly area for the troops of the other two gcr battalions who were following in motor vehicles along the same road.29

At 2040, 1 gcr arrived at the assembly area with the troops alighting their trucks and taking up defensive positions. Around 2200, once the other battalion had arrived, the 1 gcr troops departed the assembly area in three columns marching through a mix of open ground and thick bush 5500 yards to the Kismayo Road and then 2200 yards to the Gelib Road. While the lead troops arrived at the Bulo Erillo-Gelib Road at 0445, B and D companies and half of headquarters company became separated from the battalion when they heard some firing to their rear but eventually made it into their position. The ground was dominated by thick bush which limited visibility up to around 30 yards except in the D Company area where the troops could see slightly further. Just before daybreak, Italian armoured cars and some infantry began harassing the 1 gcr position as it was blocking the Bulo Erillo-Gelib Road. The men of D Company used their rifles, light machine guns and anti-tank rifles to disable two enemy armoured cars and B Company used an anti-tank rifle to set another armoured car on fire. More than a dozen Italian and African armoured car crew members surrendered.30 Several Gold Coast soldiers distinguished themselves in this engagement. At close range, Sergeant Tallata Kanjarga stood in front of an armoured car firing his rifle until the vehicle stopped and he then thrust his bayonet through a visor stabbing the driver. Private Amadu Frafra took out another armoured car by firing his Bren gun at it from just a few yards away.31

2 gcr conducted the main assault. Following a noon orders group, 2 gcr prepared for its attack on Bulo Erillo and departed its camp around 2000 hours on 12 February with the troops disembarking lorries at the crossroads assembly area. Navigating by compass, and on a bright moonlit night, the battalion marched with its companies in square formation through open country that turned into thick thorn bush and arrived at the attack start line 1500 yards south of Bulo Erillo in the early morning of 13 February. Concerned about being observed in the open terrain of that area and hearing noises from Italian aircraft, the troops shifted a further 500 yards away from the objective. The battalion experienced some confusion over the time for the start of the attack as the pre-arranged artillery salvo signal was not heard and communications with brigade headquarters went down given a cut telephone cable and radio problems.32

At 0715 on 13 February, with the sun coming up, 2 gcr began advancing toward Bulo Erillo with two companies forward (A Company on the right and C Company on the left), headquarters company and an engineering section in the centre and two companies to the rear (D Company on the right and B Company on the left). Artillery support was provided by the Gold Coast Light Battery, an Indian Mountain Battery and a Rhodesian Anti-tank Battery. While A Company on the right encountered little opposition, C Company on the left met heavy machinegun fire causing B Company to move forward silencing these enemy weapons and reaching the objective. The engineers blew gaps in the enemy wire allowing the soldiers of D Company to pass through. As British officers became casualties, African nco s took over their platoons completing the assault. By 0915, 2 gcr secured Bulo Erillo capturing a large quantity of weapons, ammunition, and equipment, and three Italians and 115 Italian African colonial troops. The bodies of four Italians and 14 colonial troops were found on the position. During the attack 2 gcr casualties comprised three British junior officers, one British company sergeant major and eight African troops killed, and three British junior officers, one British quarter master sergeant and 14 African soldiers wounded.33

As 2 gcr occupied Bulo Erillo, the troops of 1 gcr positioned on the Bulo Erillo-Gelib Road observed around 100 enemy infantry fleeing east. After receiving a message that the objective was secure, brigade commander “Piggy” Richards met the gcr battalion commanders at Bulo Erillo to decide how to consolidate the position. In turn, 2 gcr withdrew one mile west of Bulo Erillo allowing the men of 1 gcr to occupy the area with two companies and a machine gun platoon from 1/3 kar forming a defensive position on open ground and the rest of 1 gcr establishing a perimeter camp to the north. Despite some harassment by Somali irregulars, 1 gcr troops occupied their new positions and their first line motor transport arrived by 1830. As these movements took place, two companies from 3 gcr arrived at Bulo Erillo by lorry to collect wounded troops and captured enemy equipment. During the day’s operation, 1 gcr sustained one British officer and four African soldiers wounded.34

Searching for a Crossing Point

After taking Bulo Erillo to bite into the main Italian defensive position, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade’s next step was to find another point along that Juba that was undefended and crossable. From its position on the west side of Bulo Erillo, 2 gcr probed eastward testing Italian defences around Mansur Bridge on the Juba River along the route to Gelib. On 14 February, D Company conducted two patrols toward the Juba. One platoon supported by a troop of armoured cars collected abandoned Italian equipment. At the same time, the rest of the company advanced toward Mansur Bridge observing that it had been destroyed by the Italians. Encountering many roadblocks, this larger patrol engaged with the enemy about 400 yards from the ruins of the bridge which was heavily defended and withdrew without suffering casualties. That night, Italian aircraft bombed 2 gcr’s bivouac killing two African soldiers and slightly wounding one Briton and one African. On the morning of 15 February, 2 gcr dispatched three fighting patrols. First, C Company ventured north along the west bank trying but failing to find a crossing on the Juba that could accommodate motor vehicles. Second, D Company supported by a mortar section, one troop of armoured cars and a light artillery battery moved toward the Mansur Bridge, exchanged fire with the Italians at around 400 yards and then withdrew. Third, A Company along with a mortar section, a troop of armoured cars, a detachment of field engineers and with an artillery battery in support also advanced on Mansur Bridge engaging the enemy at 400 yards and withdrawing after three hours. This second and more sustained attack resulted in two dead gcr African troops and a third missing and believed killed, and 8 African troops wounded. Italian casualties were unknown. On the morning of 18 February, B Company along with a mortar detachment, engineer section and a troop of armoured cars made another foray toward Mansur Bridge finding it still strongly defended and moving back after a short engagement.35

On 14 February, 3 gcr concentrated west of Bulo Erillo at the intersection of the Afmadu-Gelib and Bulo Erillo-Bardera roads mounting patrols north and south along the Juba. That day, the battalion sent out two motorized fighting patrols. First, B Company supported by a mortar detachment and a troop of armoured cars advanced southward along the Bulo Erillo-Gobwen Road west of the Juba and ran into a strong Italian position. After testing the enemy defences, B Company and its supporting elements withdrew. Second, A Company along with a mortar detachment and an armoured car troop conducted a reconnaissance northward checking approaches to the Juba River along the Bulo Erillo-Mabungo Road and encountered no enemy. 3 gcr continued this process the next day. Supported by a section from 51 (Gold Coast) Light Artillery Battery, a mortar detachment and a troop of armoured cars, B Company made another southward advance down the Bulo Erillo-Gobwen Road and re-engaged the Italian position there. After an attempt to outflank the Italians failed given thick bush and superior enemy numbers, B Company and its support elements withdrew later reporting to have inflicted effective light artillery fire on the position. Led by 3 gcr battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel E. W. D. “Tank” Western, A Company staged another foray up the Bulo Erillo-Bardera Road dismounting to conduct a series of foot patrols along the Juba River. Once again, no enemy appeared. The same activity continued during 16 February. C Company along with mortars, a light artillery section, an engineer section and an armoured car troop advanced down the Bulo Erillo-Gobwen Road engaging a now reinforced Italian defensive position. One Gold Coast soldier was wounded, and the force pulled back that afternoon. Simultaneously, two platoons from A Company and a troop of armoured cars drove up the Bulo Erillo-Bardera Road and made more foot patrols toward the Juba River collecting information on potential crossing points and still observing no enemy. It became clear that the Italians were focusing on defending the Juba at Gelib and south of it but not to the north. On 17 February, 3 gcr mounted a more sustained attack on the Italian position south along the Bulo Erillo-Gobwen Road. The assault force comprised B and C companies plus sections of mortars, light artillery, engineers and an armoured car troop. While C Company and support elements engaged the front of the enemy position throughout the day, B Company attempted a manoeuvre around the Italian left flank but this stalled given thick bush. As it became dark around 1845 hours, the attacking force withdrew having suffered a single African soldier killed. As that assault was taking place, to the north Lieutenant Colonel Western led another reconnaissance force of two 3 gcr platoons that identified Mabungo as a viable location to cross the Juba. The crossing point comprised a camel track and ford not marked on the Italian maps used by the British. At Mabungo, the parallel Bulo Erillo-Bardera Road and Juba River were located very close together and a few hundred yards to the east across the river ran the Gelib-Bardera Road.36 This would enable the bringing in of engineering equipment to improve the river crossing after it was secure. On the same day, 17 February, the South African brigade near the coast crossed the Juba River in the Yonte area south of Gelib and began pushing through Italian resistance to establish a pontoon bridge.37

Between 14 and 18 February, 1 gcr remained in its position at Bulo Erillo distracting the Italians and protecting engineers who successfully bored for water in the dry part of the Juba River. Since they threatened the main crossing point, the soldiers of 1 gcr became the focus of periodic bombardment by Italian aircraft and artillery.38 On the afternoon of 18 February, 2 gcr took over the defensive position at Bulo Erillo as 1 gcr moved north to the river crossing point at Mabungo.39

Crossing at Mabungo

At sunrise on 18 February, Brigadier Richards issued orders for a crossing of the Juba at Mabungo prompting a day of preparations and orders groups throughout the formation. The operational plan included 2 gcr remaining at Bulo Erillo to engage the entrenched enemy around Mansur Bridge and Gelib and prevent them from redeploying to counter the crossing. Simultaneously, 1 and 3 gcr would move by vehicle to Mabungo to establish a bridgehead and then let 22 (East Africa) Brigade move through to cut the Gelib-Mogadishu Road to the east. In turn, with the crossing secure, Allied units would converge on Gelib. 1 and 3 gcr would advance south along the Gelib-Bardera Road on the east bank of the Juba, 2 gcr would attack east from Bulo Erillo pushing through Alessandra on the south part of the island, and the South African brigade would advance up from the south.40 According to Lieutenant General Cunningham, “To cover the movement to Mabungo and to delude the enemy into thinking that a frontal attack was intended, a concentration of field and light guns was directed against the defences covering Gelib … This ruse was entirely successful.”41

As the sun went down around 1830 on 18 February, the 3 gcr troops left their position west of Bulo Erillo and moved by motor vehicle column along with the East African Armoured Car squadron 18 miles up the Bulo Erillo-Bardera Road to an assembly area near Mabungo where the infantry dismounted. Following along, 1 gcr’s vehicle column left its position at 2200 heading for the same assembly area. However, given the dark moonless night, part of 1 gcr’s vehicle column became separated from the main body causing the last company to arrive at the assembly area at 0215 hours on 19 February just before the battalion was scheduled to cross the river. Leaving behind their vehicles, the infantry of 1 and 3 gcr departed the assembly area at 0300 and marched to the west bank of the Juba near the village of Mufudu (Ghedful). The 1 gcr infantry marched in three columns one and a quarter mile through open country to the riverbank. At this point, the river was 150 feet wide with a 150-foot-wide sand bank on the other side. Since most of the west bank was very steep, the battalion crossed at what appeared like a natural causeway. Although the brigade had brought along their collapsible assault boats used for training on the Tana River, they were not needed. Starting around 0430, the troops waded across the Juba through no more than 18 inches of water.42 For the same 3 gcr platoon commander who had worried about an opposed crossing on boats, “It was a relief to reach the river – but a much greater relief to find when we got into the water that we were able to wade across without a shot being fired at us. By dawn the whole Battalion was safely across.”43

3 gcr’s A and D companies crossed the river first taking up defensive positions on the east side on the Gelib-Bardera Road followed by B, headquarters and C companies. The battalion was completely in place by 0900 and spent the rest of the day digging in and cutting paths through the bush to facilitate movement between company positions. Failing to find another crossing point further up the river, 3 gcr crossed 200 yards to the left of 1 gcr and then advanced 800 yards to the main Gelib-Bardera Road filling in the existing defensive position and setting up a minefield roadblock. During the crossing, the battalions and companies coordinated their movements by radio. Around 1600, with engineers having assembled a pontoon bridge, road making machinery crossed the river cutting a new track to the Gelib-Bardera Road and allowing the gcr battalions’ vehicles to arrive. The next morning, 20 February, motorized units of 22 (East Africa) Brigade transited the Mabungo bridgehead and proceeded to a point along the Gelib-Mogadishu Road about 18 miles east of Gelib which was now isolated.44

From Bulo Erillo, 2 gcr continued to distract the Italians by engaging their positions around Mansur Bridge which was shelled repeatedly by British artillery. On 19 February, B Company, a mortar detachment and an armoured car troop advanced toward the bridge and initiated yet another firefight with its defenders before pulling back. In turn, Italian aircraft bombed the 2 gcr position during the early morning darkness of 20 and 21 February damaging two trucks. On the morning of 21 February, B Company and a mortar detachment made another move on Mansur Bridge only to find that the Italians had withdrawn abandoning a large quantity of small arms and equipment. That afternoon, 2 gcr received a warning order that it would assault Alessandra, located on the southern part of the “island” between Bulo Erillo and Gelib, the next day to support the other Gold Coast units pushing down the east bank of the Juba from Mabungo to Gelib.45

Capture of Gelib

At sunrise on 21 February, at the Mabungo bridgehead, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade held a commander’s conference to outline plans for the attack on Gelib. After 2 Nigeria Regiment relieved them at the bridgehead at noon, 1 gcr and the armoured car squadron would lead a mechanized advance 23 miles south down the Gelib-Bardera Road followed by brigade headquarters and 3 gcr. After spending the night at the village of Madoca 5 miles north of Gelib, 1 gcr would move across country to the Gelib-Mogadishu Road and attack Gelib from the east while 3 gcr advanced south to secure the pontoon bridge between Alessandra and Gelib. At the same time, 2 gcr at Bulo Erillo would seize Alessandra as the South Africans came up from the south. With the late arrival of the Nigerian units at 1330, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade departed late around 1600 and proceeded 15 miles down the road and stopped just before sunset with the two gcr battalions forming perimeter camps for the night. At 0600 the next day, 22 February, the brigade advance resumed with 1 gcr and armoured cars in the lead. Arriving at a point 6 miles north of Gelib and 1 and a half miles east of Madoca, the column witnessed a change of terrain from thick bush to a large open area about a mile wide. As such, around 0830, 1 gcr infantry dismounted and hid their vehicles in the bush in preparation to clear the defile on the other side of the clearing. Resistance was expected.

At 0915, B Company began advancing across the clearing followed closely by four armoured cars. After a tense fifteen minutes, enemy fire from light field guns, anti-tank guns and machineguns erupted from the bush on the far side of the open area prompting the armoured cars to race through the Gold Coast infantry and engage the Italians from 300 yards. Quickly, 3 out of the 4 armoured cars ran over landmines and were knocked out of action. Another armoured car tipped over as it drove off a steep road embankment. As soon as the engagement began, the rest of the armoured car squadron, three tanks, a South African howitzer battery and a mortar section began returning fire at the enemy and engineers began clearing landmines around the disabled armoured cars. While D Company moved forward toward B Company at 1000 hours with a view to flanking the Italians, the enemy withdrew abandoning their heavy weapons and other equipment. During the fire fight, three British officers were killed, and six African soldiers wounded. Taking command of a platoon that had lost its officer, B Company’s csm Awim Nangodi completed the capture of an Italian machinegun position only to receive a fatal shot in the head. As most of 1 gcr moved across the clearing to occupy the former enemy position, engineers cleared the remaining landmines and B Company secured the nearby village of Madoca. At 1215 the battalion preceded by armoured cars continued its push south toward Gelib.46

Back at the Mabungo bridgehead, during the afternoon of 22 February, an Italian force from Bardera to the north attacked the 2 Nigeria Regiment position. Three days after the crossing of the Juba, the Italians had finally learned about it and organized a counterattack. The Italian attack began with some Somali colonial irregulars harassing the Nigerians to establish their locations and strength and culminated with a substantial assault by a battalion of colonial infantry supported by artillery. Once the Nigerians repulsed this move, another brief Italian action seemed to cover their withdrawal. The Nigerians suffered one British junior officer and a Nigerian soldier wounded, and an attached kar machine gunner killed.47 This represented a critical moment in the river crossing operation as had the Italians taken the bridgehead, the 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade forces advancing on Gelib would have been isolated and vulnerable to attack from the rear. 2 Nigeria Regiment’s holding of the bridgehead served to maintain the momentum of the operation including the taking of Gelib and the continued projection of combat power further east of the Juba River.

Given the thickness of the bush around Gelib, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade abandoned the original plan of having 1 gcr attack Gelib from the east along the Mogadishu Road. With a motorized 1 gcr and the armoured cars still in the lead, the brigade column pressed south along the Gelib-Bardera Road intending to improvise a new plan of attack upon contact with the enemy. The column encountered no opposition until about 2 miles from Gelib where, in an open area, the Gold Coasters observed about 400 enemy troops lining the banks of the Juba River around the area of the pontoon bridge. Immediately, the East African armoured cars and A Company 1 gcr raced toward the enemy firing at close range which prompted a mass Italian surrender. 1 gcr entered Gelib at 1520 establishing a perimeter position in the northwest part of town. At the same time, 3 gcr moved up to the outskirts of Alessandra securing the pontoon bridge and a ferry crossing. According to the 1 gcr war diary, “it was a long day spent in the sun but everybody stood up to it extraordinarily well and if people were tired they did not show it”.48 As it turned out, the South Africans had entered Gelib from the south around noon therefore undermining Italian resistance and morale.49 Highlighting the success of the West African crossing at Mabungo and the associated British deception plan, “One Italian prisoner admitted that the garrison at Gelib had no idea that British troops had crossed the river and were attacking, until reports came through that the attack had already started”.50

As the troops of 1 and 3 gcr entered Gelib from the north, 2 gcr advanced east from its position at Bulo Erillo and attacked Alessandra on the island between the “Dry” and “Wet” Juba. In this attack, 2 gcr was supported by a machinegun company from 1/3 kar, two light artillery batteries and one anti-aircraft battery. The previous day C Company troops had constructed a ramp northeast of Bulo Erillo to enable the movement of motor vehicles toward the starting point of the attack. Crossing the start line at the village of Comberere at noon, the battalion advanced rapidly down Alessandra Road encountering continuous but minor opposition mostly consisting of grenade throwing that was easily brushed aside. Nevertheless, a force of 200 enemy infantry managed to infiltrate behind the advance ambushing the 2 gcr rear echelon destroying several lorries including one carrying mortar ammunition which exploded killing a British junior officer and three drivers, and then attacking the battalion rear headquarters. Subsequently, A Company was dispatched to the rear and almost immediately encountered the enemy dispersing them and driving them across the Juba River to its west bank. At around 1700 hours, D Company which was leading the 2 gcr advance suffered serious enemy fire from the Alessandra orchard. With Allied artillery, mortars and light machineguns returning fire on the orchard, C Company moved up to the right of D Company and both advanced into Alessandra prompting a retreat by the Italians. Ten Italians and 16 Italian African troops surrendered. 2 gcr secured Alessandra by 1815 with A Company and the rear echelon arriving there the next day given delays related to the ambush. As usual, 2 gcr captured many Italian weapons including machineguns and ammunition.51

The day after the capture of Gelib, the 11th (African) Division passed through the Mabungo bridgehead and proceeded through Gelib and east along the Mogadishu Road. Advancing 235 miles in a few days, Nigerian troops of that division entered Mogadishu on 25 February. Very quickly, 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade began redeploying north toward Bardera and Iscia Baidoa to make it appear to the enemy that the main Allied advance into Ethiopia would move through Neghelli airfield when in reality, the focus was on 11 (Africa) Division’s dash from Mogadishu up through the Marda Pass to Harar.52 In the days following the attack on Gelib, the soldiers of 1 gcr collected and organized captured weapons and equipment and escorted 613 prisoners south to Kismayo. In total, around 1800 prisoners were taken.53 Relieved by 2 gcr which crossed east of the Juba into Gelib, 3 gcr returned by vehicle to the bridgehead to relieve 2 Nigeria Regiment that rejoined 11 (Africa) Division up the coast. After 2 gcr arrived at the bridgehead, 1 and 3 gcr moved north securing an abandoned Bardera on 27 February. On 1 March, as 1 and 3 gcr arrived at Iscia Baidoa, 2 gcr followed behind arriving at Bardera.54

Conclusion

Under British command, West African troops and particularly those from the Gold Coast (Ghana today) executed one of the most impactful operations of the East African campaign of the Second World War. After troops from the Gold Coast, Nigeria and South Africa conducted a successful opposed crossing of the Juba River in February 1941, Italian resistance in Somaliland evaporated enabling British imperial forces from Kenya to press into Ethiopia and eventually link up with their counterparts from Sudan who fought a sustained decisive battle at Keren in Eritrea during February and March. Besides recognizing the important but little-known part played by West African soldiers in this campaign and acknowledging that the Italians were demoralized and not very effective, the Juba operation provides a historic lesson in successful river crossings in the age of mechanized warfare. Although it is difficult to assess, the month of river crossing training conducted by 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade prior to the operation was very likely important as these battalions comprised inexperienced officers and troops who had never participated in such actions. The rapid mechanization of West African units, and their cooperation with armoured car formations in combined arms operations, was also central as it enabled the rapid deployment of overwhelming force during the crossing. These extremely fast combined arms actions allowed 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade and supporting elements to engage the Italians and pin them to their defensive positions along the river’s main crossing points around Bulo Erillo and to its south therefore preventing the enemy from discovering where the crossing was going to take place and redeploying there. Many of these distractions involved fast moving mechanized combat teams usually comprising a company of truck-borne infantry and a troop of armoured cars with support elements. The concentration of British artillery fire in this area completed the deception tricking the Italians into believing a frontal assault was imminent. It appears the Italians were unaware of the bridgehead at Mabungo until it was too late and that their limited number of aircraft focused on harassing the Gold Coast infantry around Bulo Erillo rather than conducting aerial reconnaissance. At the same time, the experience of the West African troops as light infantry became important as they switched easily from mechanized to dismounted operations such as seizing Bulo Erillo and securing the bridgehead at Mabungo. In addition, and from the start, the West African formations did not rely on existing bridges and crossing points which the Italians either destroyed or heavily defended. 24 (Gold Coast) Brigade brought along portable assault boats which would have been a realistic option for crossing the Juba but never used them as the river turned out to be wadable at the Mabungo bridgehead. The breakout from the bridgehead was executed quickly and efficiently. Once 1 and 3 gcr secured the crossing point, it took just a day for pontoon bridging to be erected and a new road cleared allowing 22 (East Africa) Brigade to pass through with their vehicles and penetrate deep behind the Italian defensive line. Almost simultaneously, 2 Nigeria Regiment took over the defense of Mabungo freeing up the motorized troops of 1 and 3 gcr and their associated armoured car formations to press south to capture the key town of Gelib on the Juba in conjunction with the South Africans coming up from the coast. And once Gelib was captured therefore finalizing the Juba River crossing, these West African units quickly transitioned to other fast paced mechanized actions exploiting the collapse of the Italian defence. While British officers planned and coordinated the crossing, the troops who made it happen were West Africans like cms Awim Nangodi, Sergeant Tallata Kanjarga and Private Amadu Frafra who showed remarkable adaptability shifting from a dismounted internal security role at home to mechanized operations in East Africa. Since an opposed river crossing has long been considered one of the most difficult military operations, this understudied example of success may prove valuable to those planning such actions in the future. Based on actions by battalions and companies, the Juba crossing may also serve as a more realistic example given the rarity of the gigantic operations conducted in Europe during the Second World War. Furthermore, African military history offers some unsuccessful examples of opposed river crossing operations and other engagements that merit further study. For instance, during the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70), the spectacular failure of the Nigerian federal 2nd Division under Murtala Muhammed to cross the Niger River around Onitsha in October 1967 to invade secessionist Biafra will offer points about how not to approach such operations.

IF1

I. S. O. Playfair, History of the Second World War: The Mediterranean and Middle East Vol.1: The Early Successes Against Italy (London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1954), 414.

Citation: International Journal of Military History and Historiography 2023; 10.1163/24683302-bja10038

Author bio

Focusing on African military history, Timothy Stapleton is a professor in the Department of History, and a fellow of the Center for Military, Strategic and Security Studies (cmss) at the University of Calgary. The author of a dozen sole-authored books on African history, he has taught and held academic positions at universities in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, and is currently a visiting professorial fellow at the Nigerian Defence Academy. His latest book is West African Soldiers in Britain’s Colonial Army (1860–1960), University of Rochester Press/Boydell and Brewer, 2021.

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1

Andrew Stewart, The First Victory: The Second World War and the East African Campaign (New Haven, CT, 2016) 130; I. S. O. Playfair, History of the Second World War: The Mediterranean and Middle East Vol.1: The Early Successes Against Italy (London, 1954), 410–416.

2

The Abyssinian Campaigns: The Official Story of the Conquest of Italian East Africa (London, 1942), 82.

3

Neil Orpen, East African and Abyssinian Campaigns, South African Forces: Word War II: Vol. I (Cape Town, 1968), 192–213; Evert P. Kleynhans, Armoured Warfare: The South African Experience in East Africa, Masters Dissertation (Department of Military Science, Stellenbosch University, 2014), 69–81; Evert Kleynhans, “A Historical Analysis of the Influence of Climate and Terrain on the South African Operations in East Africa”, in African Military Geosciences: Military History and the Physical Environment, eds. Jacques Bezuidenhout and Hennie Smit (Stellenbosch, 2018), 107–129.

4

Arnold W. Hodson, “An Account of the Part Played by the Gold Coast Brigade in the East African Campaign, August 1940-May 1941, Part ii,” Journal of the Royal African Society 41 (162) (1942): 14–28; Anthony Haywood and F. A. S. Clarke, The History of the West African Frontier Force (Aldershot, 1964), 335–339; Stephen Kojo Addae, A Short History of the Ghana Armed Forces (Accra, 2005), 109–110.

5

There are many examples. A recent book on Nigeria and the Second World War ignores military operations conducted by Nigerian troops. Chima J. Korieh, Nigeria and World War II: Colonialism, Empire and Global Conflict (Cambridge, 2020). My recent contribution focuses on the social history and military culture of Britain’s West African colonial army. Timothy Stapleton, West African Soldiers in Britain’s Colonial Army (1860–1960) (Rochester, NY, 2022). See also David Killingray, Fighting for Britain: African Soldiers in the Second World War (Woodbridge, 2010), 147.

6

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, translated by Lionel Giles, 1910, section ix, point 3, http://classics.mit.edu/Tzu/artwar.html.

7

Carl von Clausewitz, On War, 1832, translated by J. J. Graham 1874, chapter viii, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1946/1946-h/1946-h.htm#chap103.

8

Charles K. Bartles, A Russian Approach to the Battalion Hasty River-Crossing Assault (Fort Leavenworth, KS, 2018), 58.

9

American military officers have written several short pieces on river crossings. T. T. Jones, “The Genesis of Military River Operations: Alexander the Great at the Hydaspes River”, The Military Engineer 56 (375) (1964): 424–426; O. B. Beasley, “Supporting a Major River Crossing”, The Military Engineer 43 (296) (1951): 431–435; John D. Hosler, “Gap-Crossing Operations: Medieval and Modern”, Military Review: The Professional Journal of the U.S. Army (March-April 2020), https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/March-April-2020/Hosler-Gap-Crossing/.

10

Patrick D. Vogt, On the Far Bank: The Effect of Gap Crossing on Operational Reach (Fort Leavenworth, KS, 2015).

11

fm 90-13/fmfm 7–26, River Crossing Operations, Army and Marine Corps (Washington, DC, 1992), https://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/FM90-13%2892%29.pdf.

12

Haywood and Clarke, The History of the West African Frontier Force; David Killingray, The Colonial Army in the Gold Coast: Official Policy and Local Response, 1890–1947, PhD Thesis (University of London, 1982); Stapleton, West African Soldiers. For other colonial forces in Africa see Myron Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts: The Tirailleurs Sénégalais in French West Africa, 1857–1960 (Portsmouth, NH, 1991); and Timothy Parsons, The African Rank-and-File: Social Implications of Colonial Military Service in the King’s African Rifles, 1902–1964 (Portsmouth, NH, 1999).

13

The National Archives, Kew, London [hereafter tna], co 820/25/4, Report on the Nigeria Regiment, 1937; co 820/25/5, Report on the Gold Coast Regiment, 1937; co 820/34/7, Report on Nigeria Regiment, 1939; co 820/34/8, Report on Gold Coast Regiment, 1939; David Killingray, “Military and Labour Recruitment in the Gold Coast During the Second World War”, The Journal of African History 23 (1) (1982): 83–95; Haywood and Clarke, Royal West African Frontier Force, 324–327.

14

David Killingray, “The Idea of a British Imperial African Army”, Journal of African History 20 (3) (1979): 421–436.

15

Haywood and Clarke, Royal West African Frontier Force, 331–332.

16

tna, wo 169/783, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1940, Report on Operation at El Wak, 15–17 December 1940.

17

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

18

Stewart, First Victory, 129. For a description of the Juba see The Abyssinian Campaigns, 82.

19

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; Oxford Records Development Project, Major D. A. Parks, “The History of the Gold Coast Regiment, rwaff”, unpublished manuscript, 1965, 129.

20

Eric S. Packham, Africa in War and Peace (New York, 2001), 23.

21

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; Parks, “Gold Coast Regiment, rwaff”, 127.

22

Packham, Africa, 25.

23

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; Parks, “Gold Coast Regiment, rwaff”, 127.

24

“Report by Lieutenant General Sir Alan Cunningham on East Africa Force Operations, 01 November 1940 to 5 April 1941”, 6 June 1941, Supplement to the London Gazette, 10 July 1946, 3564.

25

Orpen, East African and Abyssinian Campaigns, 192.

26

Parks, “Gold Coast Regiment”, 128–130.

27

tna, wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

28

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

29

tna, wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

30

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

31

tna, wo 373/28/310 Recommendation for Award for Kanjarga, Tallata Rank: Serjeant, 21 October 1941; wo 373/28/311 Recommendation for Award for Frafra, Amadu Rank: Private, 21 October 1941.

32

tna, wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, Intelligence Reports, February 1941.

33

tna, wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, Intelligence Reports, February 1941; Parks, “Gold Coast Regiment”, 128.

34

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

35

tna, wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

36

tna, wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; for the camel track see Packham, Africa, 27.

37

Orpen, East African and Abyssinian Campaigns, 193.

38

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

39

tna, wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

40

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

41

“Report by Cunningham”, 6 June 1941, 3564–3565.

42

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; tna, wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; Parks, “Gold Coast Regiment”, 129.

43

Packham, Africa, 27.

44

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; tna, wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; Parks, “Gold Coast Regiment”, 129.

45

tna, wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

46

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; Hodson, “Gold Coast Brigade”, 14–28.

47

tna, wo 369/3032, War Diary, 2nd Nigeria Regiment, 1941.

48

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

49

Orpen, East African and Abyssinian Campaigns, 201–205.

50

Hodson, “Gold Coast Brigade”, 22.

51

tna, wo 169/3035, War Diary, 2nd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

52

Haywood and Clarke, Royal West African Frontier Force, 339–341.

53

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; Hodson, “Gold Coast Brigade”, 22.

54

tna, wo 169/3034, War Diary, 1st Gold Coast Regiment, 1941; wo 169/3036, War Diary, 3rd Gold Coast Regiment, 1941.

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