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War in the West African Colonies and the daring raid on Fernando Po' Zoom talk on Friday 19th February at 7.00pm

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War in the West African Colonies and the daring raid on Fernando Po' Zoom talk on Friday 19th February at 7.00pm

   (0 reviews)


  • Price £10.00
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With British West African colonial territories surrounded by mainly friendly French colonies, little changed at the outbreak of World War II. This was until the Royal Navy conducted a raid on ships off the coast of French Algeria in July 1940, leading to numerous French fatalities and causing a rift with the French Government. A few days later Marshal Pétain dissolved the Third Republic, setting himself up as Head of State at which point the British colonies were surrounded by largely hostile Vichy held territory, with intrigue and espionage rife. What was it like to live there at that time? With colonial service officers barred from joining up they had their part to play in protecting British interests in the colonies.


Add to the mix a pro-Falangist Nazi sympathising Spanish colony on the borders, the small but strategically located volcanic island of Fernando Po in the Bight of Biafra became the centre of intrigue when an Italian liner and two German tugs took refuge in the harbour of Santa Isabel and appeared to be readying to go to sea. With known wireless communications and German U-boat submarines very active in the area, they needed to be stopped.


Step in the newly formed SOE with M in London determined to act to protect British interests, and with the help of his deputy, Ian Fleming to smooth things over, opposition from the Admiralty was overcome and an SOE mission was sent to West Africa where an audacious raid was planned to cut out the Axis ships from the harbour of Santa Isabel - a highly controversial plan in neutral territory. The mission was led by the SOE with the support of officers from the Nigerian Colonial Service, eager to play their part. It became known as Operation Postmaster.

Joanna van der Lande will draw all these strands of the story together with some personal insights from the perspective of one of the Colonial Service officers, her grandfather, who took part in the raid on Fernando Po.


Joanna is usually buried in stories from the ancient world having spent 30 years valuing and selling ancient artefacts. She regularly chairs vetting committees at London based art fairs, while being consultant to a number of companies including Bonhams and Art & Antiques Appraisals, providing valuations and advising on authenticity, provenance and political issues affecting the antiquities market. She is a valuer for Treasure Valuation Committee - the Government body responsible for establishing the value for UK treasure finds. Joanna was invited to join the UK Ministerial Advisory Panel on Illicit Trade (ITAP) from 2000 until it was disbanded in 2006. It was ITAP who advised the UK Government to accede to the 1970 UNESCO Convention. She is current Chair of the UK based Antiquities Dealers’ Association and in this capacity advised the Government on aspects of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act 2017.


The cost is £10 per person and do contact me on james@classicbattlefieldtours.com if you are interested.

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