Military Wiki
Kamerun Campaign
Part of the West African Campaign in World War I
British 12-pounder firing at Fort Dachang in 1915
Date6 August 1914 – 10 March 1916
(1 year, 7 months and 4 days)
LocationGerman Kamerun and British Nigeria
Result Allied victory, surrender of Kamerun

United Kingdom United Kingdom

  • Nigeria British Nigeria
  • British Raj British India[1]

France France

  • France French Equatorial Africa


  •  Belgian Congo

German Empire German Empire

  • Kamerun
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Major General Charles Macpherson Dobell
United Kingdom Brigadier General Frederick Hugh Cunliffe
France Brigadier General Joseph Aymerich
Belgian Congo Governor Félix Fuchs

German Empire Governor Karl Ebermaier

German Empire Major Carl Heinrich Zimmermann
Units involved
United Kingdom West African Frontier Force
British Raj West India Regiment[2]
Belgian Congo Force Publique

United Kingdom 1,668
France 7,000

Belgian Congo 600[3]

1914 – 1,855

1915 – 6,000[4]
Casualties and losses
United Kingdom 917
France 906[5]

The Kamerun campaign as of August 1915 from the New York Times

The Kamerun Campaign involved the British, French and Belgian invasion of the German colony of Kamerun from August 1914 to March 1916. It was a part of the West African Campaign of the First World War. The campaign primarily took place in German Kamerun but skirmishes also broke out in British Nigeria. By the Spring of 1916, following decisive Allied victories, the majority of German troops and the civil administration had fled to the neighboring neutral colony of Rio Muni. The campaign ended in a defeat for Germany and the partition of its former colony between France and Britain.


Germany had established a protectorate over Kamerun by 1884 during the Scramble for Africa. In 1911, France ceded Neukamerun (New Cameroon), a large territory to the east of Kamerun, to Germany as a part of the Treaty of Fez, the settlement that ended the Agadir Crisis. In 1914, the German colony of Kamerun made up all of modern Cameroon as well as portions of Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. Kamerun was surrounded on all sides by Allied territory. British-held Nigeria was to the northwest. The Belgian Congo bordered the colony to the southeast and French Equatorial Africa lay in the east. The neutral colony of Spanish Guinea was bordered by German Kamerun on all sides but one, which faced the sea. In 1914, on the eve of World War I, Kamerun remained largely unexplored and unmapped.[6] It was only in 1913 that the border between the colonies of Nigeria and Kamerun was finally demarcated.[7]

The German military forces stationed in the colony at the time consisted of around 1,855 Schutztruppen (protection troops). However, after the outbreak of war by mid-1915, the Germans were able to recruit an army of around 6,000. Allied forces on the other hand in the territories surrounding Kamerun were much larger. French Equatorial Africa alone could mobilize as many as 20,000 soldiers on the eve of war while British Nigeria to the west could raise an army of 7,550.[4]


Invasion in 1914

At the outbreak of war in Europe in early August 1914, the German colonial administration in Kamerun attempted to offer neutrality with Britain and France in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of the Berlin Act of 1885.[8] However this was hastily rejected by the Allies. The French were eager to regain the land ceded to Germany in the Treaty of Fez in 1911. The first Allied expeditions into the colony on 6 August 1914 were from the east conducted by French troops from French Equatorial Africa under General Joseph Aymerich. This region was mostly marshland, undeveloped, and was initially not heavily contested by Germans.[1]

By 25 August 1914, British forces in present-day Nigeria had moved into Kamerun from three different points. They pushed into the colony towards Mara in the far north, towards Garua in the center, and towards Nsanakang in the south. British forces moving towards Garua under the command of Colonel MacLear were ordered to push to the German border post at Tepe near Garua. The first conflict between British and German troops in the campaign, the Battle of Tepe then ensued, eventually resulting in German withdrawal.

In the far north British forces attempted to take the German fort at Mora but initially failed. This resulted in a long siege of German positions which would last until the end of the campaign. British forces in the south attacking Nsanakang were defeated and almost completely destroyed by German counter-attacks at the Battle of Nsanakong. MacLear then pushed his forces further inland towards the German stronghold of Garua and the Germans but able to repulse them in the First Battle of Garua on 31 August.[6]

In September 1914, the Germans had mined the Kamerun or Wouri estuary and scuttled naval vessels there to protect Douala, upriver. British and French naval vessels bombarded many towns on the coast and by 27 September had cleared the mines and conducted amphibious landings in order to capture Douala. The occupation of the entire coast by Allied forces soon followed as the French captured more of the territories to the southeast in an amphibious operation at the Battle of Ukoko.

War in 1915

By 1915, the majority of German forces, except for those holding out at the strongholds of Mora and Garua had withdrawn to the mountainous interior of the colony surrounding the new capital at Jaunde. In the spring of that year German forces were still able to significantly stall or repulse assaults by Allied forces. A German force under the command of Captain von Crailsheim from Garua even went on the offensive, engaging the British during a failed raid into Nigeria at the Battle of Gurin. This surprisingly daring incursion into British territory prompted General Cunliffe to launch another attempt at taking the German fortresses at Garua at the Second Battle of Garua in June, resulting in a British victory. This action, freed up Allied units in northern Kamerun to push further into the interior of the colony. This push resulted initially, in the Allied victory at the Battle of Ngaundere on 29 June. Cunliffe's advance south to Jaunde was stalled however due to heavy rains and his force instead participated in the continuing Siege of Mora.

When the weather improved, British forces under Cunliffe moved further south, capturing a German fort at the Battle of Banjo in November and occupying a number of other towns by the end of the year. By December, the forces of Cunliffe and Dobell were in contact and ready to conduct an assault of Jaunde. In this year most of Neukamerun had been fully occupied by Belgian and French troops who also began to prepare for an assault on Jaunde.

Surrender in 1916

In early 1916, the German commander, Carl Zimmermann came to the conclusion that the campaign was lost. With Allied forces pressing in on Jaunde from all sides and German resistance faltering, he ordered all remaining German units and civilians to escape to the neutral Spanish colony of Rio Muni. By mid-February of that year the last German garrison at Mora surrendered, ending the Siege of Mora. German soldiers and civilians which had escaped to Spanish Guinea were treated amicably by the Spanish, who had only 180 militiamen in Río Muni and were unable to forcibly intern them. Most native Cameroonians remained in Muni, but the Germans eventually moved to Fernando Po; some were eventually transported by Spain to the neutral Netherlands (from where they could reach home) before the war was over. Many natives, including the paramount chief of the Beti people, moved to Madrid, where they lived as visiting nobility on German funds.[9]


In February 1916, before the campaign had even ended, Britain and France agreed to divide Kamerun between them along the Picot Provisional Partition Line.[8] This resulted in Britain obtaining approximately one fifth of the colony situated on the Nigerian border, forming British Cameroon. France gained French Cameroon, which consisted of the majority of former German territory. In 1960 Cameroon gained independence from France.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Killingray 2012, p 117.
  2. Paice 2008, p. 299.
  3. Strachan 2004, p. 31.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Killingray 2012, p 116.
  5. F.J.Moberly, Military Operations. Togoland and the Cameroons, 1914–1916[page needed]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Reynolds et al. 1916.[page needed]
  7. Omoigui, Nowa. "Nigeria: The Story of Bakassi Peninsula.", 20 Sept. 2012. Retrieved 22 Jan. 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ngoh 2005, p 349.
  9. Quinn 1973.


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