23-25 September

British and Free French forces try to bring the port of Dakar over to the Allied cause. The operation is code-named Menace.

The British are led by Admiral J Cunningham and the French by General de Gaulle. The forces involved include three small Free French warships but the main power is provided by two British battleships and one carrier. There are 3600 Free French troops aboard the various transports and a further 4300 British who, for political reasons, are not to be used unless absolutely necessary. The Vichy forces include the battleship Richelieu (unfinished), two cruisers and some destroyers and submarines. Admiral Landriau commands these vessels and Governor Boisson is in overall charge. On the first day of the operation there are talks between de Gaulle and the Vichy representatives, but these fail to reach any agreement and the Vichy warships begin an exchange of fire. There is damage done on both sides and one Vichy submarine sunk. An attempt by the Free French forces to land in Rufique Bay is beaten off. On 24 September the battleship Resolution is hit by shellfire and on 25th is seriously damaged by a torpedo. Barham also takes a 15-inch hit from Richelieu. Following these setbacks the operation is abandoned on Churchill’s orders.

French West Africa
French West Africa