Operation Ironclad – The invasion of Madagascar

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Evans March 2, 2019 at 11:04 pm

In 2005 I had the honour of looking after one of my neighbors (an 85 year old man) this old soldier told me about the battle of Madagascar he broke down as he told me that he was the only survivor of his company all the rest had been mown as they landed on the beach he said he lay in the sand as machine gun bullets kicked sand all around him and he was there for nearly 24 hours until reinforcements came. Until I googled I didn’t even know we had battled with the Vichy.
Thanks for the information and history lesson.

Philip Edwards September 9, 2018 at 1:32 pm

My father was in the landings and Subsequent battles for Madagascar with the 2nd Batt RWF and was hospitalized in Durban ( Oribi Hospital) we’re not sure if he was wounded or disabled through desease as many were, I believe Malaria and black water fever was rampant in some areas in land .

Alistair Burns July 22, 2018 at 2:41 pm

My Father Michael Francis Burns was blinded at Diego Suarez when a chap in front of him stood on a landmine. He was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. he later joined St Dunstans, studied medicine and became a Physiotherapist. He died in June 1986. RIP

stephen kelly November 30, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Private George Hulmes was killed in that battle, he was my mothers brother

Tianaina Photo Madagascar October 8, 2017 at 11:52 pm

I am from Madagascar but I never heard of those stories yet.
Thanks for the share!

Steve Cowan November 21, 2015 at 11:46 pm

My uncle was there; A1435 Leading Signalman Richard Graham STEVEN, R.N.Z.N.V.R. He was wounded as a member of a shore signalling party; a French mortar landed near him, breaking his leg and injurying him with shrapnel. Uncle Graham (Snowy to all) recovered in Mombasa, returned to active service and finally finished a long war returning home to Auckland in 1946 after being a member of the NZ naval occupying force in Japan. (He also served aboard HMS KEDAH at the fall and evacuation of Singapore 1941-1942.)

Editor September 28, 2015 at 11:22 am

See my FAQ about TNA

The National Archives based at Kew in west London is a fascinating place for anyone interested in history. The staff are exceptionally helpful and very geared up to assist amateur historians and interested members of the public. If you plan a visit make sure you take the right personal documentation so that you can get a pass to get direct access to real historical documents. See http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. – See more at: http://ww2today.com/faq#sthash.6wR9PH3f.dpuf

NicolAs Carlisle September 24, 2015 at 9:15 pm

My late father was Lieutenant Carlisle mentioned in the article, and I retain a letter of his to his mother describing the action in pretty much the same way. Does anyone know how one could obtain TNA WO 218/156 for the full report as is mentioned in this article.
many thanks

Tonybrod August 20, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Many thanks for information from Carrie Johnson. I wondered why there are no graves of the British dead on the islad only a memorial stome. I cant believe that nobody was recovered in the numerous actions there. If so, what happened to the bodies? Regards Tony

Richard Simon June 25, 2015 at 2:52 am

The Squadron Commander whose report is quoted above, Major (later Lt Col) J E S Simon (NOT Simons!), went on to have a distinguished career. He was MP for Middlesborough West and served in Harold Macmillan’s government, becoming Financial Secretary to the Treasury then Solicitor General. He then became a judge, President of what was then the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division (now the Family Division). In 1971 he became a Life Peer as Lord Simon of Glaisdale. He died in May 2006 aged 96.

John Weatherall March 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm

hi then

my cousin was in the South Lancs and I believe he was involved in the invasion of Madagascar, he wore a French flag patch on his left upper sleeve, was this patch relevant to this invasion


Molly Carman November 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Has anyone heard of a Philip Avann who was an 18 year old sailor in 1942 in Madascar? We would love to hear from anyone.

Molly Carman (Niece)

carrie johnson July 19, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Hi Tony. My great uncle John (Jack) Blakemore also served with the 5 cdo East Lancs Regiment and was fatally wounded on the 10/09/1942. Here’s what I have discovered about it, and forgive me if I’m telling you things which you already know.

5 cdo’s arrived on assault transport HMS Winchester Castle for the commencement of Operation Ironclad on 05/05/1942. The subsequent Operation Streamline Jane which began on Thursday 10/09/1942 was an amphibious landing at Majunga to re-launch Allied offensive operations ahead of the rainy season. Small scale clashes ensued and Vichy soldiers had erected many obstacles on the roads.

The only information I have on events immediately prior to Op Stream Line Jane’s landing was an account of another cdo 5 present at the time. He wrote that “Cdo’s were to leap off Destroyers going 30 knots as they came along the quayside. The plan was to land right in the docks but the op went wrong. The landing craft broke down and instead of landing before dawn we went in in broad daylight.”

I don’t know the identity of this cdo I’m afraid and really can’t remember where I discovered this information but it would have been an internet search for sure. I found this account in some of my old notes.

Hope this helps,

Tony Brod February 14, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Hello, My uncle died 110942 having served with 5 cdo East 2 Lancs Regt. He has no known grave. Cpl George Ormesher was wounded and his family seem to recall a message received stating the ship he was being casivac on being sunk. I can find no trace of any sunken ship on this date. Does anyone have any info re same of actions by 5cdo immediately prior to this date? Many Thanks for your time. Tony

Ray Prichard November 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm

My late father’s daily diary written each day during his RN service details blow-by-blow timed accounts of the taking of Majunga etc. I also have the original Naval Message in my father’s own hand, transcribed from morse code, congratulating them all on operation Ironclad and telling all that they were about to take Majunga

Ray Prichard November 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm

My late father’s daily diary written eacvh day during his RN service details blow-by-blow timed accounts of the taking of Majunga etc. I also have the original Naval Message in my father’s own hand, transcribed from morse code, congratulating them all on operation Ironclad and telling all that they were about to take Majunga

Editor March 10, 2013 at 11:52 am


Many thanks for your comment. I do not even attempt to cover all aspects of each action mentioned.

If you know of an account of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in WWII I would be happy to link to it or give an excerpt from it.

harry coates March 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Why is there no mention of the 2nd batt royal scots fusilers in which i served from march 1939 to july 1948, in your account.

manfred brandt October 12, 2012 at 7:01 am

My father was a german sailor on the merchant ship”Wartenfels” they had docked I believe in Diego Suarez on their way back from Eritrea. He told me that there was an invasion by the Allies and they had to scuttle their ship. He and all his shipmates were then captured and taken to South Africa and subseqently interned at” Koffiefontein” in the Free State ”
I have tried to look up and find any articles about what actually happened with the ship afterwards and all the sailors but no luck
Can anyone help ?

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