The First Battle of Garua took place from 29 to 31 August 1914 during the Kamerun Campaign of the First World War between German and invading British forces in northern Kamerun at Garua. It was the first significant action to take place in the campaign and resulted in the German repulsion of the British force.
On 25 August 1914, British cavalry from the West African Frontier Force had occupied Tepe weeks after war had broken out in Europe. This German border post, to the north of Garua, was taken by British forces after defeating German units there at the Battle of Tepe. The post's occupation gave British forces a foothold in northern Kamerun to attack the many German forts that protected the region including the ones at Garua.
German defenses at Garua
The Germans had constructed five modern fortifications at Garua, each of which were situated to give supporting fire to another if needed. They consisted of large earthworks that included deep trenches and dugouts with overhead protection. Barbed wire had been laid on the approaches to the forts, which were protected by a German garrison. Artillery was needed to cause any significant damage to the fortifications.
After seizing the border post at Tepe, British forces under the command of Colonel MacLear turned southwards to the German stronghold at Garua. The British arrived on 29 August and dug entrenchments around the German forts. That night the British attacked the German fortifications, charging over 400 meters of open ground. After suffering heavy casualties they successfully captured one of the five forts at Garua. The following day German forces counter-attacked, pushing the British from the recently captured fort. Nigerian troops reportedly fled, leaving British officers alone in the trenches. As the British force fled the Germans continued their counter-attack, pushing British forces out of Kamerun completely and pursuing them into Nigeria for days afterwards. The majority of the officers of the British units were killed, including the commanding officer, Colonel MacLear. 40% of the native Nigerian troops were lost. The Germans suffered relatively minor losses in comparison.
The action that occurred at Garua, as well as along other areas along Kamerun's northwestern border with Nigeria turned out to be relatively successful for the Germans. They were able to repulse each British thrust that came at them during the opening days of the conflict. The victory at Garua enhanced the morale of German Askaris significantly and stalled Allied advances into northern Kamerun until mid-1915, when the Second Battle of Garua resulted in British victory.
- War Illustrated Deluxe p. 1178.
- Strachan 2001, p. 522.
- Hilditch 1915, p. 15.
- Reynolds et al. 1916.
- Buchan, 1922.
- "Britain's Conquest of the German Cameroons." War Illustrated Deluxe pg 1178. Web.<http://www.greatwardifferent.com/Great_War/SW_Afrika/Cameroon_01.htm>.
- Buchan, John. A History of the Great War. Vol. I. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1922
- Hilditch, A. N. "Battle Sketches 1914 - 1915". Oxford UP, 1915.
- Reynolds, Francis J., Churchill, Allen L., and Miller, Francis T. "Chapter 77 - The Cameroons." "The Story of the Great War". Vol. III (of VIII). 1916.
- Strachan, Hew. The First World War. Vol. I: To Arms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
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