• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

WI : Dakar taken in 1940 after Operation Menace


Never Forget Avaricon
What would be the consequences if Franco-British forces managed to successful complete their objectives in Dakar?

Let's say the Free French forces are able to take Rufisque and then advance west until securing Dakar, De Gaulle being convinced that fighting against French and colonial troops stationed there was unavoidable.

There would have been pretty likely immediate consequences, such as providing the Royal Navy with a strong port in African mid-atlantic more easily cutting down German raids on supply lines, as well as giving Free France access to the gold reserves of the Banque de France (with the implications about buying materials from Americans) from one hand and giving De Gaulle a much needed credibility internationally and among inner networks.

In addition of taking a strong naval base in Mid-Atlantic and the gold reserves of the Banque de France (with all that implies with Free French capacity of buying material from Americans), what could have been obtained there? Would Free French be able to gain a battleship with the Richelieu and cruisers out of the battle or would have these been too damaged and/or unmanned?

Furthermore, I think Hitler would have lost a lot of interest going "soft" on Vichy as its capacity to hold on the French colonial empire would have been demonstratively unable to fully do so and thus a good part of its raison d'être gone? Would Germans decide the Armistice fleet couldn't be fully trusted and try to take it over earlier?
(In fact the only clearly implausible consequence as far as I can tell would be Vichy militarily committing along Germany, giving that's something that was proposed IOTL and immediately refused, giving Hitler rejected any idea of rearming France.)

Would other colonial territories more prone to switch to a Dakar-based Free France such as Gabon without going trough the IOTL campaign, in spite of the still very recent consequences of Mers-El-Kebir?
What of the consequences on a North African front ITTL?
I've been wondering about that too. In fact there could have been a way for the Free French to take Dakar without even having to fight for it, if the colonial governor had sided with De Gaulle rather than Pétain. Let's say, for example, that due to other factors, the governor-general of French West Africa in 1940 is Léon Geismar, who in OTL held the position only from July to October 1938.
Interesting. A significant question is what then happens in Algeria as a consequence. I think the Germans would still want to keep Vichy around as breaking the Armistice terms might trigger Algeria joining Free France (at least in theory) and Germany and Italy were not in a position to try to preemptively seize it.
Interesting. A significant question is what then happens in Algeria as a consequence. I think the Germans would still want to keep Vichy around as breaking the Armistice terms might trigger Algeria joining Free France (at least in theory) and Germany and Italy were not in a position to try to preemptively seize it.
Mers-El-Kebir would be still extremely fresh in everyone's mind in both French navy and colonial circles, and depending on how bloody the Battle of Dakar would have been ITTL, I don't think it would have painted De Gaulle and Britain in any more positive light. In fact, you'd have likely an earlier shortage of goods and food (IOTL it was felt around 1942), which would be readily blamed on them

You could see a much harsher repression against any dissident element ranching from Arab nationalists to any form of resistance, including but not exclusive to Gaullists with a possible ripple effect on so-called Vichysto-Résistants both more likely targeted by Vichy and Germans and more easily rivalled by Gaullists.

It wouldn't be impossible to see an earlier Operation Torch depending how the capture of Dakar influences the timeline (especially if Germany decides to just takeover the French Mediterranean fleet as guarantee), with an actual Free French presence able to negotiate with army groups in Algeria rather than primarily done by Americans, but I'd also see this as a more bloody endeavour comparable in a bigger proportion to what happened in Syria IOTL.
Okay this is some very rough outline I could see happening out of my lack of good knowledge of the period and military context.


I think 1, 2, 3 and 4 are probably likely to happen by 1940 (although feel free to point if I'm wrong there), providing both Britain and Free France with more resources (either by just taking colonial assets and military recruitment, either by not having to invest which had been IOTL)

I'm not really sure about Operation Marie in 5, giving it seems to at least depends on how the conflict goes in Syria, which I don't know how much would be influenced by the PoD here. Assuming that London have a more important confidence over Free French capacity to either convince CFS forces to surrender or to quickly hold on the territory, could we see the operation happening in early 1941 as part of an earlier invasion of Italian Eastern Africa, (likely with Free French troops along Free Belgians ITTL) itself freeing more resources and leeway for both the Pacific Theatre and the Desert War?

Speaking of which, in 6, It might be fairly consensual to argue that Free French forces (with more colonial troops, material and supply at disposal) would be likely to undergo stronger and more operations and raids in Italian Libya, in support of British Operation Crusader. Would this mean, along a lesser pressure in Atlantic and Indian ocean, and the AOI dealt with, that British forces could have not only taken back Cyrenaica but also entered in Tripolitania by late 1941?

I think an equivalent to the Brazzaville Conference is pretty much a given ITTL, and giving Free French hold on most of the colonial empire (safe North Africa and Indochina) at this point with Dakar serving as a capital for a *CFLN-like structure (7), , possibly as early as in 1941? It might serve as both a mean to strengthen control over AOF/AEF (possibly by promising or enacting structural autonomy, suppression of indigénat) along with trying to make passes to North African populations. There's a risk that such would be considered negatively by colonial circles and be counter-productive to more diplomatic outcomes towards "Vichysto-Résistants" but it might also gives some credence towards Americans.

Eventually, I think that while possible, raids and operations in southern French Algeria (8) are fairly unlikely. I don't see which strategical or operational benefices would have been expected, and would have rather antagonised possible contacts in Vichy France and controlled colonies. I might miss something there.

It's difficult to imagine Menace working as constituted. There was far too much reliance on the popularity of de Gaulle and the Allied cause amonst the French establishment in Dakar, particularly given Vichy had been purging pro-Allied officials from the area since June. The belief that a British flotilla appearing wouldn't provoke a negative reaction after Mers-el-Kébir is simply bizarre. Madagascar and Syria show that Vichy resisted British incursions and would continue to do so unless defeated outright. As late as 1942 the planners for Torch considered dressing British troops in American uniforms to try and prevent Vichy resistance to the landings.

You would probably need a full-scale amphibious operation to pull it off (possibly beyond the capabilities of the British at this time) and/or do some real intelligence work as with Torch to create loyal contacts and build up Free French prestige elsewhere in the meantime. Even then, short of a total coup, it's possible Vichy officials still make off with the gold reserves and possibly succeed in sabotaging the port facilities.

If everything did somehow go right in September 1940 then the Allies get a major propaganda victory and de Gaulle gets the base and resources he needs to build up the Free French Army of his dreams. He'll also have much more independence of action which, alongside being bolstered by this success, lead to even riskier endeavours. Torch in 1941 seems a fair bet.

I don't think this results in Vichy's immediate dissolution. The Italians will certainly press for it and if French West Africa folds with Dakar Case Anton may happen earlier. Germany was still actively trying to get Vichy onside at this time however and if, when Hitler meets Petain, there's an ongoing land war between Vichy and the Allies in West Africa they might be more likely to succeed.