The Cameroons

The coat of arms of German Cameroon 

At the outbreak of war in August 1914 a joint force of British and French soldiers invaded the German colony of Togoland in western Africa, what is now the Togo and Volta regions of Ghana. The German forces were initially overwhelmed and withdrew from the capital and coasts and fought delaying actions while in retreat. The British and French captured and advanced along the railways in pursuit, then converged with a smaller Allied force that had blocked the German army moving further north. In 1916, after a year and a half of fighting, the German forces in Togoland surrendered and the territory was partitioned. Some soldiers of the British West Indies Regiment served in support roles during this last phase of the campaign. The loss of Togoland heralded the beginning of the fall of Germany’s overseas empire.

Some battalions of the British West Indies Regiment also performed support roles in the Cameroon campaign, which like Togoland began at the onset of war. British forces from Nigeria, supported by French and Belgian allies, crossed south into the German colony of Kamerun in August 1914. The offensive was divided into three, with separate forces pushing into the north, centre, and south of Kamerun. The most success was had in the centre, where the Germans were eventually forced to retreat. The British force in the north of the colony however were stuck in a series of brutal sieges that were to last until the end of the campaign. The force that attacked in the south were defeated and almost completely wiped out by German counter-attacks. While the Allied armies pressed the German defenders of Kamerun into the last of their southern territory the Germans conducted a series of raids across the border into Nigeria. The German commander then ordered the remaining 7,000 soldiers and 7,000 civilians to escape into the neighbouring Spanish colony of Rio Muni.