The World at War



1708December 13 – 19 A French expedition led by Captains de la Merveille of Le Curieux and Champloret le Brun of Le Diligent sails along the coast of Somalia. They attempt to trade with the natives butare poorly received. Five sailors are killed when their landing party is ambushed near Berbera.
December 29 Le Curieux and Le Diligent enter the Gulf of Tadjoura. An envoy delivers a letter of greetings to Captain Merveille from the Sultan in the name of the King of Adel and Zaylah and offering him wood, water and safe entry at the port of Zayla. The French decline the offer and sail on to Yemen in search of coffee plants.
1838Rochet d'Héricourt lands at Tadjoura and travels to Harrar.
1839January 16 Great Britain establishes a protectorate over Aden. French explorers scour the entrance to the Red Sea seeking a means to counterbalance the British presence before the opening of the Suez Canal.
During the Year The Sultan of Tadjourah guarantees Rochet d'Héricourt safe passage through Danakil territory.
1840August 31 The Sultan of Tadjoura Mohamed ben Mohamed signs a treaty with Captain Moresby granting the Isle of Bab at the entrance to the Gubbet el Kharab and the Musha Isles in the Gulf of Tadjoura to Great Britain.
September 18 Edmond Combes of La Compagnie Nanto-Bordelaise purchases property for a trading post near the village of Edd for 1,800 Maria Theresa Dollars. The site is poorly chosen and the company soon bankrupt. The land is ceded to the Maison Pastre which in turn cedes it to the French Government which never accepts it.
1849The French Consul at Massawa Monsieur Rolland reports to his government on the importance of Obock.
1855October 17 Henri Lambert, French Consul in Aden, visits Tadjoura. He reports that Sultan Mohamed ben Mohamed rules about 3,000 subjects and, “is independent of the Pasha of Hoddeidah and Governor Mahmoud Pasha who is commander in chief of all Yemen.” Lambert’s visit is followed shortly thereafter by another from William Coghland, the British Agent in Aden, who advises the Sultan to maintain a guarded posture towards the French.
1856April 26 Henri Lambert visits Obock where he is informed that he is the first European to land there as far the natives can remember.
September 4 Henri Lambert returns to Obock and finding no trace of Turkish or other foreign occupation, treats with Abou Baker Ibrahim, the Sultan of Tadjoura, who offers the French trading rights at Ras Ali and Obock.
1857Henri Lambert makes the ultimately fatal mistake of involving himself in a rivalry between the Sultan of Tajoura and Pasha Chermarké of Zayla.
1859June 4 Henri Lambert is thrown into the sea and drowns shortly after his ship docks at Moucha. The killers were acting on orders from Pasha Chermarké.
1861January - July Admiral Fleuriot de Langle visits Tadjoura to investigate the murder of Henri Lambert.
1862March 11 Dini Ahmed Abou Baker, Sultan of the Afars, signs a treaty of alliance and friendship with France and cedes the lands surrounding Obock in exchange for 10,000 Maria Theresa Dollars. France reserves rights to the shores of Ghoubbet el Kharab by an additional act.
May 19 Admiral Fleuriot de Langle returns to Obock. The local chiefs assure him that they are quite independent and that Turkey exercises no rights there nor any serious plans to reclaim any that may have existed. The Tricolor is raised to mark the occasion but there will be no effective French military occupation. The French presence will be confined to the flag guarded by and elderly Danakil who receives an occasional visit from a ship of the French Navy.
1866July French trader Denis de Rivoyre arrives in Obock.
1868October 4 Monsieur Poilay, representing the House of Bazin and Rabaud of Marseilles, buys the peninsula of Sheikh Said on the Arabian mainland Perim Island and Aden from Ali Toubatt Bourein for 80,000 Maria Theresa Dollars.
1870Great Britain bans the entry of French ships to the Port of Aden at the opening of the Franco-Prussian War. France establishes a coaling station at Sheikh Said garrisons and constructs several fortifications on the peninsula. The territory is abandoned after the war and the Turks destroy the fortifications without protest from the French Government.
1872Denis de Rivoyre is granted a trading concession in the Territory of Obock.
1873The French Government considers ceding Obock to Egypt in exchange for a building to house its Cairo Consulate but the proposal is dropped because Egypt has never recognized French rights in Obock.
1874An Egyptian expedition boards two warships and three transports of the Khedival LIne and departs Suez with orders to occupy the Somali Coast from Tadjoura to Berbera.
Egyptian garrisons are stationed in the Somali Coast ports. The Egyptians agree to pay the Sultan of Turkey an annual rent of £18,000 for the port of Zayla.
1877September 7 Egypt claims that the British Government has recognized its jurisdiction over the Somali coast as far as Ras Hafun.
1880Pierre Arnoux takes over the trading concession in the Territory of Obock.
The Governor of Zayla, Abou Baker, claims to have dissuaded the Captain of the Egyptian garrison from carrying out orders to occupy and install a garrison at Obock.
1881Pierre Arnoux and Denis de Rivoyre form La Compagnie Franco-Éthiopienne.
Paul Soleillet and Léon Chefneux form La Société Française d'Obock et du Golfe Persique.
1882Great Britain supports Italian efforts to limit French influence in Somalia.
King Menelik of Choa authorizes Paul Soleillet of La Société Française d'Obock et du Golfe Persique to establish a trading post at Sagallo.
June 24 The Commander of the patrol sloop Le Vaudreuil reports that the Egyptians are occupying the interior between Obock and Tadjoura.
1883December 19 A convention is signed allowing French warships to take on coal at the Obock depot of Poindexter Colliers which was built to supply Orient Line steamers. Great Britain had closed the port of Aden to French warships at the start of the Franco-Chinese conflict in Tonkin.
December 29 Léonce Lagarde de Rouffeyroux, age 24, is appointed Commissioner of the French Government on a special mission for reconnaissance and delimitation of the Territory of Obock.
During the Year Monsieur Mesnier of La Compagnie des Steamers de l'Ouest obtains authorization to establish a coaling station at Obock.
1884April Léonce Lagarde renders an account of his mission to the authorities in Paris.
April 14 The Commander of the patrol sloop L’Infernet reports on the Egyptian occupation in the Gulf of Tadjoura. June 3
Emperor Johannes IV of Ethiopia signs an accord with Great Britain to cease fighting the Egyptians and to allow the evacuation of Egyptian forces from Ethiopia and the Somali Coast ports.
June 18 The Territory of Obock is placed under the authority of a commandant with powers defined by application of an 1844 statute governing Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
June 24 Léonce Lagarde is named Commandant of Obock. Lagarde signs a treaty of alliance and protection with the Sultan of Tadjoura.
July The Italians occupy Berbera and Zayla but the French beat them to Tadjoura.
The Egyptian garrison is withdrawn from Tadjoura. Léonce Lagarde deploys a patrol sloop to Tadjoura the following night. A British warship arrives the next morning to find the French sloop already anchored before the town.
August 9 Léonce Lagarde signs a treaty of friendship with Ahmed Loitah, Dankali Sultan of Gobad, who agrees to protect French caravans and refrain from signing other treaties without the assent of the Commandant of Obock.
September 10 Arthur Rimbaud writes to his family, “There is a French naval vessel in Obock on which 65 out of 70 crewmen on board are sick with tropical fever. The commanding officer died yesterday...” The French poet was among the first European traders operating in the area. Aside from dealing in coffee, hides and gums he also sells fireworks and firearms to aid Menelik in his quest to unify and become Emperor of Ethiopia.
October 18 The Sultan of Tadjoura Mohammed Loitah cedes Sagallo to Paul Soleillet of La Société Française d'Obock et du Golfe Persique who in turn cedes it to the French Government.
Governor Abou Baker orders the Egyptian garrison at Sagallo to retire to Zayla. The cruiser Seignelay reaches Sagallo shortly after the Egyptians depart. French troops occupy the fort despite protests from the British Agent in Aden, Major Frederick Mercer Hunter, who dispatches troops to safeguard British and Egyptian interests in Zayla and prevent further extension of French influence in that direction.
1885January 10 The Sultan of Rahaito, already subject to the influence of the Italian traders in Assab, nevertheless, agrees to recognize French sovereignty over the coast between Ras Ali to Ras Doumeira.
January Henry Audon lands at Obock, then travels to Sagallo where he is welcomed by the French garrison and two Swedish missionaries.
March 25 Monsieur Henry, French Consul at Zayla, signs an accord with Nour Oblé, Ougaz of Gadaboursi, establishing a French protectorate over the Gadaboursis Somalis.
March 26 Léonce Lagarde signs a treaty of protection with the Issas chiefs.
June 3 A storm batters Obock. The French steamer Renard sinks with the loss of 120 passengers and crew.
July The population of Obock is about 800.
November 21 Maria Theresa Dollars, French Francs and Indian Rupees are declared legal tender in Djibouti and Obock.
During the Year The French budget provides for the stationing of an 80 man Naval Infantry Company and a warship at Obock.
1886June 30 La Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes signs a convention with the French State to carry the mail and transport officials from France to Obock.
December Arthur Rimbaud assembles a 100 camel caravan in Tadjoura to transport 2,000 rifles to Menelik. French authorities delay his departure before Rimbaud convinces Commandant Lagarde to allow it.
During the Year La Société Française d'Obock et du Golfe Persique is declared bankrupt.
The population of Obock climbs to about 2,000.
1887Obock’s trading establishment includes a dozen Europeans and ten Yemeni Arabs who arrive along with their families at the invitation of Commandant Lagarde and the French consul in Aden. The remaining population is made up of Somalis and Afars who come from the desert camps to trade camels to the caravan operators.
January 2 King Ménélik enters Harrar to the surprise of the European powers forcing a reconsideration of their plans to extend their power to the interior. Ras Makonen, now Governor of Harrar writes Léonce Lagarde in the hope of, “establishing friendly relations.”
June 1 Emperor Ménélik offers to protect French traders and take measures to suppress the slave trade in return for an outlet to the sea along the Issas coast.
September 5 Léonce Lagarde is appointed Governor of the Territory of Obock.
September 6 The French Government decides to collaborate with Ménélik in halting the spread of British influence. Léonce Lagarde becomes Consul General of the Somalis at Zayla.
1888February 9 Great Britain agrees to recognize the French protectorate over the Gulf of Tadjoura including the the Isles of Moucha and the Islet of Bah in return for abandonment of French rights in Zayla.
March Paris approves Governor Lagarde’s request to move the administration to Djibouti where the French trader Éloi Pino and his employees are operating a caravan station. Lagarde appoints Bourhane Abou Baker, Bey de Djibouti, and installs a Diwan to run the newly emerging town. Bourhane settles at Ras Djibouti where he builds a house beside the sea. The Diwan is housed on the market square along with the police station. Lagarde makes periodic visits to Djibouti and builds a residence not far from that of Bourhane.
July 7 Djibouti achieves rapid success. Traders from Zayla arrived with their caravans and settle beside others who abandoned Obock. Consul Labosse formerly of Zayla notes, “Each day people from Zayla come to settle here. They find water in abundance here and are well treated.”
During the Year Louis Auguste Bremond, Manager of the Factories Françaises d'Obock, transfers his operation from Obock to a new site in Djibouti chosen by Governor Lagarde and is quickly followed by other traders such as Garrigue, Coubèche and Marill.
Four Franciscan nuns from Calais open an orphanage in Obock.
1889January 16 - 17 The Austrian Lloyd’s steamer Amphitrite slips past the patrol sloop Météore into the Gulf of Tadjoura during the night and lands a 165 member Russian expedition led by dissident Cossack leader Nicholas Ivanovitch Atchimoff.
January 17 The Russians gather on the beach at sunrise for a thanksgiving service led by Father Paissi, abbot of the 40 monks accompanying the expedition. Following prayers and vodka toasts, Atchimoff announces that he is abandoning the expedition’s original aim of establishing a Russian settlement and Orthodox religious community in Ethiopia. He has decided to plunder the caravans traveling between the Somali Coast and Ethiopia instead. Governor Lagarde is informed of the Atchimoff party’s landing and dispatches an officer from the Météore to inform him that any hostile act towards the natives or the territory will oblige French forces to act against him. The Italian press accuses France of supporting the Russian venture in East Africa to block Italy’s ambitions.
January 19 Atchimoff permits 30 Cossacks to raid the Danakil’s mountain herds. They steal a cow and a sheep after driving off the tribesmen with rifle fire. On the return trip, angered at not getting their hands on a caravan, they kidnap and rape a young Danakil girl.
January 20 The Sultan of Tadjourah demands an end to Russian piracy and reparations. Atchimoff pays him 60 francs and dismisses him contemptuously.
January 22 Atchimoff departs Tadjoura in the company of 20 Cossacks to inform the Danakil chiefs that the Czar has taken them under his protection.
January 24 The French Foreign Office demands an explanation of what it considers a deliberate act bordering on hostility. The Russian ambassador replies that his country is completely disinterested in Atchimoff’s enterprise, that it in no way involves the Czar, is of private origin and does not enjoy the political of military support of his Government. The French Government orders Admiral Jean Baptiste Olry, Commander of the Naval Division of the Levant , to dispatch the cruisers Seignelay and Primauguet to Obock.
January 25 Atchimoff returns to Tadjoura and declares that he has discovered an excellent spot for an encampment, the abandoned Egyptian fort at Sagallo.
January 28 Atchimoff raises the Russia flag over the ruins of Fort Sagallo which he renames New Moscow. A chapel is erected on the terrace. Atchimoff, Father Piaissi, the monks and the married Cossacks occupy the blockhouse. The others sleep where they can, pitching small tents on the right and left to protect them from the scorching heat.
January 29 Atchimoff begins to repair the fort but disorder reigns supreme and discipline deteriorates. The Cossacks only want to raid the surrounding countryside and hold up caravans headed to Ethiopia. Atchimoff attempts to restore calm by distributing gold and silver coins in hopes that they will wait until the fort is repaired before beginning their pillage.
February 8 The borders of the French protectorate are internationally recognized as starting at Lehadou halfway between Ras Djibouti and Zayla and following the watering holes along the road to Harrar. Moucha Island and the Isle of Abou Maya are ceded to France.
Admiral Olry tells Governor Lagarde to inform Atchimoff that he must restore order in the Russian camp and obey the Governor’s instructions or the naval division will dislodge him by force. The French Government, believing that the appearance of its ships before Tadjoura will be sufficient to bring Atchimoff to his senses, orders Lagarde to await Admiral Olry’s arrival before acting.
February 16 The Seignelay and the Primauguet drop anchor in Obock Roads. After putting Governor Lagarde ashore, the Naval Division sails on to Tadjoura where an officer is sent to meet with Atchimoff and inform him of the exact state of his situation after the talks between Paris and Saint Petersburg.
Atchimoff refuses an invitation to meet with the Governor aboard the Seignelay; claims to be on a mission from the Czar, who alone can change his orders, and orders a machinegun uncovered. Atchimoff further informs the officer that his troops are heavily armed and that he has no intention of leaving Fort Sagallo which he has taken possession of in the name of Russia. The officer tires of arguing and orders Atchimoff to restore order in the Russian camp, surrender arms and assemble the expedition on the beach for repatriation to Russia.
Admiral Olry decides to fire a few shells on the fort to give Atchimoff pause for thought. The Seignelay fires a few salvos wounding five Cossacks. The Russian flag comes down. Atchimoff surrenders. French landing parties encircle the fort and collect arms which include several machineguns and fifty repeating rifles. The expedition is assembled on the beach and put aboard the ships for transportation to Obock where they will await repatriation.
The Russian Government disavows Atchimoff accuses him of disobiedence to the Czar, defrauding the Russian Treasury and acts of piracy.
Paris informs Saint Petersburg that France would not be opposed to Atchimoff’s departure for Ethiopia or even to the establishment of a Russian colony.
March 4 The Naval Division of the Levant arrives at Suez and transfers the Atchimoff and his band to the Russian corvette Zabiaka which returns them to Odessa.
1893Djibouti’s population of 1,200 outstrips Obock’s which numbers less than 1,000.
February 11 Emperor Menelik grants Swiss engineer Alfred Ilg, a concession to construct all railways in Ethiopia.
1894March 9 Alfred Ilg and Léon Chefneux form La Compagnie Impériale d'Éthiopie to undertake the construction of a railway linking Djibouti, Harrar, Addis Ababa and the White Nile.
During the Year French authorities take direct control of Djibouti’s administration. Bourhane Bey is forced from office.
1895Djibouti’s population approaches 5,000.
March Governor Lagarde transfers all administrative services from Obock to Djibouti.
1896May 20 A decree unites the Territory of Obock, the protectorates of on Tadjoura, Gobaad and Ghoubbet el Kharab and the Issas country as far as the border with British Somaliland into a single colony under the direct authority of the Minister of France in Ethiopia, the French Somali Coast and Dependencies. Djibouti becomes the capital. Obock remains the terminus of the submarine cables to Aden but its population drops to about 500.
August 7 La Compagnie Impériale des Chemins de fer Éthiopiens (Ethiopian Imperial Railway Company) is formed.
During the Year Governor Lagarde recommends that every man in the Djibouti garrison be armed with two rifles and a thousand cartridges. Sniper fire outside the town is almost constant during the night.
1897Djibouti contains some 6,000 inhabitants.
January 27 Léonce Lagard negotiates a treay with Ras Makonen and Ménélik allowing the Bonchamps Expedition to cross Ethiopia with relief supplies for the Marchand Expedition which is marching from the Congo to the White Nile. The Treaty also stipulates that France considers Djibouti to be the only outlet for Ethiopian trade and authorizes the transit of war materials required by the Ethiopian Empire and that Ethiopia considers Djibouti as the only official outlet for Ethiopian trade and recognizes the borders of the French Somali Coast Protectorate.
March 24 French representatives and Ménélik II sign a convention establishing the boundary between the French Somali Coast and the Ethiopian Empire which is never followed up with a ground survey. The lack of precise delimitation gives rise to a number of differing interpretations leading to border incidents betweent the French and Italians in January,
October Entrepreneurs Duparchy and Vigouroux begin construction of the Ethiopian Railway despite undercapitalization.
1898The population of Djibouti passes 10,000.
August 29 The post of Administrator of the French Somali Coast, subservient to the French Minister in Ethiopia and assisted by an administrative council, is created by decree.
1899January 9 The Governor of the French Somali Coast is granted autonomy from the French Minister in Ethiopia.
August 14 The first 108 kilometers of the Franco-Ethiopian railway are opened between Djibouti and Daouenle, the first stop inside Ethiopia.
1900January France and Italy sign protocols establishing the border of the French Somali Coast with the Italian colony of Eritrea at Ras Doumeirah.
June Rebel tribesmen attack a railway construction camp killing 30 workers and sowing panic among the Europeans of Djibouti. Homes are barricaded and the owners keep watch from the terraces, others take to sea and hide aboard boats. The British Resident in Aden, H. E. Penton offers to send a warship to protect the Europeans.
During the Year The population of Djibouti grows to 15,000 including about 2,000 Europeans. Employment on construction of the 783 kilometer Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway peaks at around 2,500 workers.
La Société Industrielle completes a 7 kilometer aqueduct connecting the Djibouti with the watertank at Ambouli along with public fountains and a water main to supply ships in the port.
The French Somali Coast is home to 27 French, 29 Greek, 1 Armenian and 192 Arab, Indian or Native traders.
1902December 24 The Franco-Ethiopian railway reaches Dire Dawa 309 kilometers from Djibouti at an altitude of 1206 meters. Harrar is thought impossible to reach because of an escarpement and a shortage of funds.
1906La Société des Salines de Djibouti (Djibouti Salt Company) is founded by Monsieur La Fay. The first salt ponds are established on a 3 hectare flood plain west of Djibouti where a half dozen windmills pump seawater into the holding ponds.
The Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway reaches Harrar and Dire Dawa.
French post offices are opened at Harrar, Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa. Stamps of the French Somali Coast are used to frank mails going overseas.
July 6 France, Great Britain and Italy sign the Tripartite Accord maintaining the political and territorial status quo in Ethiopia. The accord allows a French company to continue construction of the railway as far as Addis Ababa but France renounces the right to any further extension in the direction of the Nile.
1907The population of Djibouti drops to about 5,000 including 300 Europeans as construction of the Franco-Ethiopian railway winds down.
May 21 The Bank of Indochina establishes a branch in Djibouti because of the colony’s location on the shipping route from France to India and the Pacific via the Suez Canal.
June 6 La Compagnie Impériale des Chemins de fer Éthiopiens files for bankrupty despite the international accord permitting construction of the railway.
1909May 15 La Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Franco-Éthiopien de Djibouti à Addis-Abeba (Franco-Ethiopian Railway Company of Dijibouti & Addis Ababa) is formed. The French Government provides guarantees which allow the company to raise the necessary capital to complete the work which has been halted for six years.
1911Germany demands cession of Djibouti as compensation for settlement of the Tripolitania question which shuts them out in favor of the Italians.
August Henry de Monfreid departs Marseilles for the Horn of Africa and a job as an accountant for an Ethiopian trader in Djibouti.
1913Henry de Monfreid moves to Obock, buys a boat and begins trading in arms, pearls, hashish and according to his detractors, slaves, though he denies it. He converts to Islam and takes the Arab name Abd El Hai (Slave of the Living).
1914January Governor Pascal sends Henry de Monfreid to photograph the Turkish fortifications at Sheikh Said, the nominally French enclave on the coast of Yemen which had been abandoned to the Turks after serving as a coal depot for French ships when Aden was closed to them during the Franco-Prussian War.
January 31 The Franco-Ethiopian railway crosses the Aaouache River but World War I will soon distract the management and workers, slows deliveries of material and increase costs.
August 2 Germany declares war on France. Nationalist feeling runs high among the French in Djibouti. The colonial administration fears an exodus of volunteers for the front will soon leave the town defenseless in the face of an enemy attack. Lieutenant Depuis organizes a defense brigade and accuses any colonist wishing to leave of desertion.
November The French Admiralty sends the destroyer Dupleix to Djibouti to provide escort for the convoys transporting Indian troops from Bombay to reinforce Aden.
December 10 The cruiser Desaix arrives in Djibouti to replace the Dupleix which departs for Hoddeida in Yemen where the Turkish governor refuses to allow the departure of the British and French consuls.
1915The Franco-Ethiopian railway reaches Addis Ababa 783.256 kilometers from Djibouti at an altitude of 2,348 meters.
1916April 10 Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dedjaz Moulou Gueita informs the French Minister in Addis Ababa, Jules Coppet, that the Ethiopian Consul in Djibouti, Ato Joseph, has obtained permission from Governor Fillon to seize Aboubaker, a French subject who is leading an open rebellion against the Ethiopian regime, recruiting men from Tadjoura and taking refuge in the French Somali Coast to evade capture.
April 20 French Minister Jules Coppet meets with Moulou Gueita and the Ras Taffari (Haile Selassie) at Guebbi. Coppet informs them that he is in agreement with Governor Fillon and has no objection to Ethiopian troops looking to seize, even on French territory, Aboubaker, a man who is their mutual enemy.
May 11 The 6th Bataillon de Marche Somali is formed in Madagascar with recruits from the French Somali Coast.
June 10 The 6th Bataillon de Marche Somali is regrouped at Fréjus, France and is renamed the 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis. The original battalion, commanded by Major Fortin, includes 1,400 Somalis, 200 Yemeni Arabs, 75 Comoro Islanders and 25 Ethiopians and Senegalese.
July 20 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis is sent to the Verdun sector and put to work repairing roads.
September The cruiser D'Estrées arrives in Djibouti after escorting the French Military Mission to Jeddah along with steamers transporting Moslem pilgrims from the French colonies.
Governor Victor Fillon voices concern about a possible seizure of Djibouti by forces loyal to Ethiopian crown prince Lidj Yassou who has taken refuge in the Franco-Ethiopian Railway station at Dire Dawa after being ousted by the nobility because of his openly Moslem and pro-Turkish sympathies.
October A Somali unit formed by the 2nd and 4th companies of the 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis is finally put on the frontlines as part of the Moroccan Colonial Infantry Regiment which preparing for a planned offensive in the Verdun sector.
October 3 The French Admiralty orders the D’Entrecasteaux from its station in Oran to Djibouti to join the cruisers Pothuau and D’Estrées.
October 22 The 2nd and 4th companies of the 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis under Captain Depuy are ordered to lead the attack on Fort Douaumont. The other Somali companies are to be held in reserve.
October 24 The 2nd and 4th companies of the 1st Somali Batallion lead the attack that retakes Fort Douaumont, Verdun.
October The Pothuau arrives in Djibouti. Captain de La Fournière notes that floating mines are swept with a 200 ton tugboat and 3 small steamers. After discussions with Paris, he obtains some rudimentary dredges and a 5 kilowatt wireless station. Supplies of coal and water remain insufficient. The Pothuau, D’Estrées and D’Entrecasteaux spend the rest of the year escorting convoys to Madagascar and on the Socotra patrol.
November 6 President Raymond Poincaré pins the Cross of the Legion of Honor to the colors of the Moroccan Colonial Infantry Regiment in recognition of its role in the retaking of Fort Douaumont. The citation notes that the regiment, “reinforced by ... two companies of Somalis overran the the first German trenches with an admirable élan and progressed under the energetic command of Colonel Régnier successively breaking the resistance of the enemy for a depth of two kilometers to inscribe a glorious page on its history with the seizure of Fort Douaumont and by preserving its conquest despite repeated enemy counter-attacks.” The 2nd and 4th companies of Somalis are also awarded the Croix de Guerre with a palm. December
The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis becomes a combat unit with the addition of a machinegun company and 37 mm artillery pieces. Recovered casualties are sent to a reserve company based in Fréjus after discharge from the hospital. The Somalis pass the winter in the Midi at Fréjus and Saint-Raphael.
During the Year Henry de Monfreid continues to supply information to the authorities but finds running the British blockade of the Arabian coast more lucrative.
Repicci builds Djibouti’s first electrical generating plant.
1917January 9 The Governor Fillon orders the arrest of a German named Gurk, the manager of Max Klein House in Dire Dawa, who was found in possession of 5 documents, including 2 coded messages, one destined for Berlin and the other for Istanbul. Gurk, who had adopted Moslem customs and manners several years prior to his arrest, appeals to Abdul Aziz Ben Sheikh Ahmed whose armed band of 8 men attempt to reach the coast near Zayla, British Somaliland to make an escape to Yemen. They are chased into the French Somali Coast where they are captured a Doudah near Guissy.
February An espionage network is discovered to be operating in Djibouti for the benefit of the German Consul General in Addis Ababa. Two Ethiopian subjects are implicated, one in Addis Ababa and the other in Djibouti. The Ras Taffari (Haile Selassie) imprisons the spy living in Addis Ababa, a supporter of deposed Crown Prince Lidj Yassou, for life and the German and Turkish Legations in Addis Ababa are completely cut off from their capitals.
March The German Minister in Addis Ababa von Syburg decides to send documents to Berlin via General Said Pasha commander of Turkish forces in Yemen. The documents will be delivered by a special caravan led by the legation’s secretary Arnold Holtz with the assistance of an Austrian named Karmelich. The German Legation asks the Ethiopian Government to issue passports allowing Consul Jensen, Holtz and Karmelich to go hunting in the south of the country.
March The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis returns to the front with an effective strength of 642 Somalis, 187 Arabs and 64 Comoro Islanders. The native cadre includes 5 adjudants, 33 sergeants and 54 corporals.
April 3 The French Minister to Addis Ababa, Jules Coppet, is informed of von Syburg’s plans. After consulting his British and Italian colleagues, Coppet decides against opposing the departure of the German caravan. However, during several meetings with the Ras Taffari and his Foreign Minister Moulou Gueita, he points out the imprudence of allowing a relatively largely number of men unfriendly to the regime to travel about the country.
April 12 The German-Turkish caravan leaves Addis Ababa in sections. Consul Jensen, Holtz and Karmelich, the last two dressed in Ethiopian garb, leave the capital on horseback during the evening. The French Minister is notified and wires Djibouti.
April The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis is once more attached to the Moroccan Colonial Infantry Regiment. The Somali companies are scattered within three battalions of the regiment. The Somalis are assigned to resupply the frontlines at Hurtebise with food and ammunition.
May 3 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis is temporarily attached to the 21st Infantry Division to join the 65th and 93rd Infantry Regiments in the attack on the Chemin des Dames.
May 5 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis clears the German line between Cerny and Ailles. The successful completion of the mission earns the battalion its first citation, a divisional order of the Croix de Guerre with a silver star.
May 8 The French Consul at Dire Dawa reports the Holtz-Karmelich caravan two days march from Warouf.
Jules Coppet, the French Minister in Addis Ababa asks the Ras Taffari to secure the railway between Dire Dawa and the border with the French Somali Coast. The Prince Regent assures Monsieur Coppet that his fears are unjustified and limits his promises to the dispatch of troops from Harrar to Dire Dawa.
May 19 Governor Fillon is informed that the Holtz-Karmelich caravan was seen entering the French Somali Coast on the previous day. Fillon asks the Minister Coppet to negotiate a cut off of supplies to the caravan with the Ethiopians and remind them of the consequences of their tolerance for Holtz and Karmelich.
May 31 The Ras Taffari (Haile Selassie) orders supplies for the Holtz-Karmelich caravan cut off.
June 7 The Djibouti – Addis Ababa Railway officially opens after 20 years of construction at a cost of 115 million francs and an untold number of lives. A consequent drop in population caused by the departure of construction workers is quickly offset by the arrival Somalis, Arabs, Indians, Greeks and Armenians as well as nomads from the interior all drawn by the commerce generated by the railway and the port.
June 11 Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dedjaz Moulou Gueita denies that his government is supporting or turning a blind eye to the activities of the Holtz-Karmelich caravan. The Minister declares that Holtz and Karmelich have joined forces with deposed Crown Prince Lidj Yassou and rebel cheiftan Aboubaker and writes the French Minister, Jules Coppet, to protest a lack of response to his government’s request for the extradition of Aboubaker. Monsieur Coppet replies, “The Djibouti authorities have done nothing to facilitate the movements of Aboubaker towards the territory of the Empire (Ethiopia) and there is no comparison between this case and that of Holtz and Karmelich." He goes on to, “again thank the Ethiopian Government for the measures it has taken to prevent the supply of a troop which constitutes a danger to the Ethiopian Government as well as to the French colony of the Somali Coast.”
June The Holtz-Karmelich Caravan is thwarted in its attempt to deliver documents from the German Legation in Addis Ababa to the General Pasha in Hoddeidah, Yemen. Holtz turns the documents over to an Arab emissary for final delivery and decides to return to Addis Ababa.
The Arab emissary to whom Holtz had entrusted his documents turns them over to Governor Fillon in exchange for 2,000 Maria Theresa Dollars.
Henry de Monfreid was contracted to ferry Holtz and Karmelich across the Strait of Bab el Mandeb to Yemen aboard his boat the Fat el Raman. Monfreid is highly trusted because of his marriage to a German but is in fact a double agent working for the French.
Governor Fillon sends an armed column of about 60 men which cuts off Holtz’s retreat and encircles him at Afasi on the Dakka Plateau near Wadi Sekayto 50 kilometers inside French territory. After a brief skirmish Holtz and Karmelich surrender. They are transported to France and held prisoner until the end of the war.
June 18 Jules Coppet reports that, "The Ethiopian Government certainly hoped that Holtz and Karmelich would easily embark from a spot of the French Somali Coast before attracting the attention of the colonial authorities ... However now that things have turned out badly and the two German adventurers did not succeed in crossing the Straits of Bab el Mandeb, the Ethiopian Government realizes the mistake it made and ministers like the Ras Taffari have put the responsibility for this act of kindness to the German Legation on others...It remains at present for the Allied Powers to decide what attitude the Entente will take in the face of this flagrant violation of neutrality."
June The German Legation delivers a protest to the Ethiopian Government claiming that the skirmish with the Holtz-Karmelich caravan had taken place on Ethiopian territory and that French forces had violated Ethiopian territory. The Ethiopian Government requests evidence to support the German protest in particular documents proving that the arrest of Holtz had taken place on Ethiopian territory. The French Legation provides the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with detailed information and the Ethiopian Government closes the case.
October 23 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis rejoins the Moroccan Colonial Infantry Regiment for the Battle of the Aisne. The Somalis carry the day at Malmaison where their riflemen fight the elite regiments of the German Imperial Guard. The Somali Battalion is cited with the Order of the Army for its brilliance in the capture of the Bohéry quarries and the Malmasion plateau.
December The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis is taken off the frontlines and sent to Saint Raphael to regroup and train. Most of the Comoro Islanders are scattered among the Malagasy units are regrouped in a homogeneous company of the Somali battalion.
Later in the Year German Minister von Syburg attempts to mount another expedition intended to cross the Afars region where they will attempt to meet with Lidj Yassou before embarking between Assab and Obock, reach Sheikh Said and Yemen, and return to Ethiopia with money and arms. It is to be organized by an Austrian named Franck and commanded by a German, Greisamer with the assistance of his compatriot, Kessen and another Austrian, Abel.
French authorities in Djibouti inform the Ras Taffari (Haile Sellasie) that General Said Pasha, commander of the Turkish troops in Yemen, has succeeded in contacting deposed Crown Prince Lidj Yassou and has promised to help him create difficulties for the Ethiopian Government. The Ras Taffari orders strict controls placed on the movements of Germans and Austrian residing in Ethiopia.
1918January 1 The cruiser Du Chayla is sent to Djibouti to replace the D’Entrecasteaux on Red Sea patrol.
April 23 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis returns to occupy the trenches on the banks of the Oise.
May 6 The cruiser Pothuau returns to Saigon for an overhaul.
May 11 The cruiser D’Estrées returns to France for repairs.
May 30 - June 4 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis earns distinction by holding its positions at Mont de Choisey and Caisnes against the German offensive during the Third Battle of the Aisne.
July 11 The cruiser Cassard arrives in Djibouti to replace the D’Estrées
July 18 – 21 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis emerges victorious in fighting at Longpont, Villers, Hélon, Parcy and Tigny during the Second Battle of the Marne.
July 22 The cruiser D’Entrecasteaux is ordered to Malta for overhaul.
August 18 – September 4 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis advances on Ailette as part of the newly formed 2nd Moroccan Division under the command of General Modelon. The Somalis capture the German positions at Bailly-le-Camp, Ourscamp and Sempigny before joining the fight at Jonquis and Salency to relieve pressure on the southern flank.
September 4 The 1st Bataillon de Tirailleurs Somalis is retired from the frontlines on the Oise and sent Alsace where it holds the Bellerdorff and Fullern sectors.
November 11 The First World War ends. The Somali Batallion was awarded 6 citations including 3 Orders of the Army and 1,195 individual citations.
1919January 15 General Bordeaux addresses the tirailleurs as they depart for East Africa to express the satisfaction of the Premier and the Minister of War with their performance on the battlefield and to pin the Croix de Guerre to the colors.
1920Djibouti is the seventh largest port in the French colonies.
Henry de Monfreid begins his career as a drug trafficker running hashish from Greece to Arabia by way of Marseilles and Djibouti.
The Post Office acquires the French Navy’s wireless station. Nighttime connections are established with France, Madagascar and Indochina as well as ships at sea and the cables of the Eastern Telegraph Company at Aden. Messages to Ethiopia are carried over a line strung along the railway and a telephone exchange is opened in the town of Djibouti.
The Health Service includes a 44 bed Inter-Colonial hospital purchased from the railway, an infirmary for the natives and a dispensery for women and children.
1922A French state primary school for boys is established. Girls receive instruction at the School of the Nativity operated by the Franciscan Sisters from Calais. Native children follow custom and attend the Koran schools or the Franco-Islamic School opened by Monsieur Coubèche.
1923Henry de Monfreid makes two voyages to Bombay to buy hashish which is banned in most countries but legal in India. His first shipment is stolen but on his second voyage he acquires six tons of hashish which he sells in the Seychelles at a 100% profit after eluding the maritime authorities who keep his ship under constant surveillance. Monfreid later recounts the tale in his book The Pursuit of the Kaipan.
1924The Franco-Ethiopian Railway Company pays off the construction loans guaranteed by the French Government despite difficult operating conditions, orders additional rolling stock and builds the station at Addis Ababa.
A report published by Baron Lyons de Feuchin states that during the First World War 2,434 Somalis were mobilized, 2,088 sent to France and 517 were killed in battle.
1925The first airplane to reach the colony lands between Avenues 13 and 26 in Djibouti. The French Army stations a half-squadron of Potez 25 aircraft at Djibouti.
1926July 12 The Messageries Maritimes steamer Fontainbleau arrives from China with a cargo of cotton. A fire breaks out in the hold but the port of Djibouti has no fire fighting facilities and the only means to extinguish one is to flood the hold.
July 13 At 6 p.m. the Fontainbleau breaksup and rolls to starboard and sinks in the middle of the harbor where it becomes a navigation hazard.
1927March 2 French troops occupy Tadjoura.
1928Jesuit paleontologist and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin visits Obock at the invitation of Henry de Monfreid. Teilhard spends two months in the French Somali Coast accompanied by his colleague geologist Pierre Lamarre before departing Djibouti for Tientsin.
December The Méharistes Patrols, a force of native irregulars, successfully employed in policing the Sahara since 1897 are introduced in the French Somali Coast.
1930January – April Joseph Kessel famed reporter for Paris Matin accompanied by Henry de Monfried, military doctor Émile Peyré and two other companions investigates the slave trade between Ethiopia, the French Somali Coast and Arabia.
May 26 Paris Matin publishes the first in a series of 20 articles on slavery in the Red Sea region by Joseph Kessel. The paper’s circulation grows by 150,000.
During the Year Famed investigative reporter Albert Londres visits Djibouti during a whirlwind tour of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Londres documents his journey in the book Pêcheurs de perles (Pearl Divers).
1931La Société des Batignolles begins constructing a 700 meter long jetee connecting the wreck of the Fontainbleau with shore to form a deep water port. A section of the jetee is completed 4 years later but the start of World War II brings an end to the project.
Edouard Duchenet, a school teacher who spent two years learning Somali, publishes a reader to help young Somalis learn basic French.
1932August 7 President Albert Lebrun unveils a memorial to the Moroccan Colonial Infantry Regiment at Fort Douaumont, Verdun. The plaque carries the text of the 1916 citation which mentions, “the two companies of Somalis.”
During the Year Henry de Monfreid’s Les secrets de la mer Rouge (The Secrets of the Red Sea) a semi-autobiographical work set in the Harrar, Djibouti, Aden... of 1913 that recounts his adventures as sailor, pearl trader and gun runner following in the footsteps of Rimbaud is published.
1933Henry de Monfried recounts his days as a hashish trafficker in his book La Croisière du Haschisch (The Hashish Cruise).
A company of Tirailleurs Sénégalais and 3 airplanes are sent to reinforce the French Somali Coast. The Senegalese are gradually replaced by Somalis who are formed into La Compagnie de Tirailleurs de la Côte Française des Somalis.
1934Henry de Monfreid’s La Poursuite du Kaipan (The Pursuit of the Kaipan) in which he gives a fictionalized account of a chase between his drug running ship and British maritime authorities is published.
Commandant Bouet compiles a list of soldiers from the French Somali Coast who were killed in action, died from other causes or gone missing during the course of the First World War. Bouet reports: 224 killed, missing or presumed killed; 69 lost at sea, 197 who died from wounds or disease. 490 native tirailleurs along with 72 Europeans were killed or missing.
1935French forces in the Somali Coast are reinforced following the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The 10,000 men of the French garrison include; 1,500 European, 6,500 Senegalese and Malagaches and 2,000 Somalis of the Senegalese Regiment of the Somali Coast, The 1st Foot Battalion of Senegalese Tirailleurs, The French Somali Coast Militia, The Colonial Artillery Battery of the French Somali Coast and two squadrons of Méharistes (camel corps).
1936August 1 An accord is sign between the Italian Government and La Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Franco-Éthiopien. Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia and subsequent development program pushes the railway’s capacity to its limits. The railway modernizes its rolling stock with the purchase of four Fiat railcars and new locomotives. Night trains are scheduled. The trip from Djibouti to Addis Ababa which once took 3 days and 2 nights with stopovers at Dire Dawa and Aouache is shortened to a day and a night. New panoramic passenger cars and a dining car are put in service to increase capacity and comfort. The line is double tracked from Ali Sabieh to Dire Dawa.
During the Year The French Somali Coast’s 450 hectare salt ponds achieve peak production. 77,000 tons of salt are exported to Ethiopia, India and Japan from the salt port established in the bay between Einguéla and Arhiba. Edouard Duchenet, back in France, publishes a collection of Somali folklore and songs entitled Histoires Somalies.
1937The Port of Djibouti’s first oil tank is installed on the Marabout Plateau by La Société des Pétroles de Djibouti, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell.
1938January A detachment of Italian Méharistes (camel corps) crosses the unmarked border between Italian East Africa and the French Somali Coast and travels 40 kilometers into French territory.
December The Italian foreign minister Count Ciano demands the cession of the French Somali Coast to Italy.
During the Year Italy fails to gain complete control of the railway through diplomacy and decides to neutralize Djibouti by making the port and the railway redundant. The Italians construct asphalt roads to connect Assab and Massawa with Addis Ababa. Rail traffic drops from 700 tons to 300 tons per day. Djibouti ceases to be Ethiopia’s only outlet to the sea. The railroad goes into decline and unemployment grows.
1939January General Paul Legentilhomme is named Commander in Chief of troops in the French Somali Coast and sent to the colony at the head a 4,000 man taskforce that includes several battalions of Tirailleurs Sénégalais, 2 warships and a squadron of Potez bombers.
General Legentilhomme orders construction of anti-tank trenches around and in Djibouti, casements and a blockhouse at Ambouli and Doralé, and trenches in the hillsides at Farah Had, Ali Sabieh and Dikhil.
May French and British authorities meet in Aden to discuss the strategic importance of the French Somali Coast. The French express confidence in their ability to hold the line against an Italian attack coming from Ethiopia but express the belief that an Italian advance through British Somaliland would terminate in an attack on Djibouti by way of Zayla. The British agree to allow French troops to move into British Somaliland if necessary.
June Arms and explosives are stockpiled in Djibouti for an Ethiopian resistance network to be established by Commandant Robert Monnier. However, a serious effort to support the Ethiopian resistance from Djibouti proves nearly impossible do to the colony’s progressive encirclement by Italian troops and the activities of Italian secret agents. Monnier is forced to move his point of entry to the Sudan.
December The British General Staff abandons its plan to withdraw in the event of an Italian invasion of Somaliland and adopts the recommendation of General Wavell to reinforce the garrison and come to the assistance of General Legentilhomme, the Inter-Allied Commander in the region.
During the Year The modernized Port of Djibouti offers 6,200 square meters of warehousing connected by 4 kilometers of railway on the Marabout Plateau, a deep water quay in Fontainebleau, a quay for boats and barges at the Duparchy Pier, a coal depot and fuel tanks with direct dockside loading.
France restores the enclave of Sheikh Said to full Yemeni sovereignty.
1940June 10 Italy declares war on France and Great Britain. Djibouti is defended by 300 officers and 8,000 well equipped troops. The Italians refrain from attacking the port and the Allies maintain a defensive posture.
June Governor Deschamps and General Legentilhomme take measures to strengthen the colony’s defenses and prepare for a prolonged struggle. The presence of families evacuated from Madagascar, Lebanon and Indochina strains Djibouti’s resources.
An exchange of French and Italian personnel working on the Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway is effectuated.
June 17 The Administrative Council adopts a motion in favor of continuing the war.
June 18 General Legentilhomme issues General Order No.4 denouncing the armistice and announcing his intention to continue the fight at the side of the British Empire.
July General Legentilhomme attempts to rally the colony to the Free French cause with the help of Colonel Edgard de Larminat but the administration remains firmly in the Vichy camp.
July 22 General Aymé replaces General Legentilhomme as commander of French forces in the Somali Coast Protectorate.
July 23 The Administrative Council of the French Somali Coast agrees to accept the armistice as long as Italian troops do not occupy Djibouti where French forces will remain stationed.
July 25 General Gaetan Germain makes his entrance into Djibouti a few days after arriving in Italian East Africa by plane. Vichy grants the new governor full civil and military power to carry out the terms of the armistice.
August 2 General Legentilhomme and a few followers leave the Somali Coast by way of British Somaliland to join General de Gaulle in England.
August 4 French troops in the Somali Coast standby as the Italians invade British Somaliland.
August 7 Pierre Nouailhetas succeeds General Germain as governor.
October 31 General Paul Legentilhomme reaches London.
November General de Gaulle dispatches a Free French liaison mission to Aden in hopes of rallying the 8,000 French troops in the Somali Coast to the Allied cause.
1941March Djibouti comes under blockade after British forces recapture Somaliland and cut the railway line to Addis Ababa in Italian East Africa which until now has provided supplies to sustain the colony. Connections with Vichy were maintained by long range seaplanes carrying mail and foodstuffs via Lebanon. Despite the rigorous blockade, the British continue talks with Governor Nouailhetas in an effort to rally the colony to the Allied cause.
April British forces in Ethiopia begin dropping leaflets calling on the French Somali Coast to rally to Free France. The newspaper Djibouti Libre published in Dire Dawa is also air dropped into the Vichy controlled colony and a 15 minute newscast is broadcast over the radio.
1942Vichy recalls Governor Pierre Nouailhetas after his superiors decide that he is in too close contact with the British. Nouailhetas delegates his authority to the military commander General Truffert.
November 30 General Truffert refuses to rally to Admiral Darlan’s government in Algiers despite the German invasion of Vichy France.
December 3 Two battalions, accompanied by civilians, leave Djibouti to join the British forces in Somaliland.
December 4 General Truffert is forced to resign and cede power to his adjutant General Dupont after a great majority of Djibouti’s military and civil administrators threaten to leave for British held Somaliland.
December 18 General Dupont’s appointment as Governor of the French Somali Coast is confirmed by Vichy. General Dupont contacts the American consul in Aden and the British High Command in a last minute and ultimately vain attempt to negotiate a settlement under which Vichy retains authority over the colony with an Allied guarantee of neutrality.
December 26 Free French troops, regrouped in Ethiopia under the command of colonels Appert and Raynal, reach the outskirts of Djibouti by train.
December 28 General Christian Dupont, the Vichy Governor, surrenders the colony to British and Free French forces.
General de Gaulle’s delegate, M. Chancel, signs an accord with General Dupont and the representative of the British High Command, General Fowkes, which transfers administration of the colony to the French National Committee of Liberation.
December 30 Governor André Bayardelle, the Free French governor appointed by General de Gaulle, takes office.
1943January 26 Maria Theresa Dollars and Indian Rupees lose legal tender status in the French Somali Coast.
During the Year The Free French administration begins an airmail service linking Djibouti with Madagascar to keep their civil air rights alive.
The Free French Army organizes a Somali detachment to serve in Ethiopia under the name Battalion Somali de Souveraineté.
1944May 16 The Bataillon de Marche Somali (Somali Infantry Battalion) is organized and enters the war at the side of the Free French Forces.
August 26 The Tricolor of the Somali Batallion of that distinguished itself in the First World War is presented to the Bataillon de Marche Somali as it departs Djibouti for Algiers.
September 8 The Bataillon de Marche Somali arrives in Algiers for training.
October 25 Batallion Chief Bentzmann takes command of the Bataillon de Marche Somali.
1945March The Bataillon de Marche Somali lands at Antibes to join the Régiment d’Afrique Équatoriale Française et Somali commanded by Colonel Candau.
March 12 The Bataillon de Marche Somali is among the units ordered by General de Gaulle to reduce the Royan pocket.
March 28 The Somalis are positioned before the village of Gua near the Perge Marsh which has been flooded by the enemy.
April 12 General de Larminat decides to launch an attack in the direction of Soulac. The Somalis are chosen for the most difficult task, establishing a bridgehead on the north side of the marsh.
April 15 The Bataillon de Marche Somali under the command of Major Bentzmann breaks through the German line holding a 400 meter long position on the north bank of the Perge Marsh.
At dawn, the 3rd Company of Somalis, under Captain Périquet, launches the first wave of the attack on Soulac. After 3½ hours of fighting their way through the marsh and under constant bombardment by German grenades, they reach the enemy bank. They force the surrender of German forces holding the village of Le Trieu, capture 53 prisoners and three blockhouses.
The 2nd Company of Somalis takes heavy losses from enemy mortar rounds. At 4:30 in the afternoon only 69 men are left to fight. They return to combat, take 14 prisoners and force the retreat of the last defenders.
April 18 The Bataillon de Marche Somali is resupplied with food, ammunition and men allowing the Somalis to liberate Soulac after four hours of wading through mud and water up to their necks. They force the Germans from their entrenched positions behind an anti-tank traps and in a single dash, capture the village of Vieux Soulac along with a well fortified command post at Pointe de Grave. In seven days of combat in flooded terrain littered with mines the batallion kills 947 Germans, captures 100 concrete emplacements and captures 330 prisoners. The Somalis lose 34 dead and 90 wounded.
April 22 General de Gaulle, personally, pins a palm to the Bataillon de Marche Somali’s colors.
July 14 A delirious crowd acclaims the heros of the Bataillon de Marche Somali during the Bastille Day parade in Bordeaux.
August 1 The Régiment d’Afrique Équatoriale Française et Somali is disbanded and the Bataillon de Marche Somali once again becomes autonomous.
1946June 25 The Bataillon de Marche Somali is disbanded at Boulaos as part of a general demobilization. The men of the Somali Batallion were awarded two Legion of Honor, 7 Military Medals and 20 citations.
October 27 The French Somali Coast is raised from the status of a colony to that of French overseas territory. The inhabitants are accorded French citizenship and representation by a deputy and a senator in the French National Assembly.

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