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Operation Iron Clad

Unit/ Formation: Combined Ops

Location: Madagascar

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1942

Date/s: 5 May 1942

Allied commanders launched an amphibious assault on Madagascar in May 1942. Operation Ironclad was executed by Force 121. It would include allied naval, land and air forces and be commanded by Major-General Robert Sturges of the Royal Marines.

The British Army landing force included the 29th Independent Infantry Brigade Group, No 5 (Army) Commando, and two brigades of the 5th Infantry Division.

Map from

With the French defence highly effective, the deadlock was broken when the old destroyer HMS Anthony dashed straight past the harbour defences of Antisarane (Antisiranana) and landed fifty Royal Marines amidst the Vichy rear area.

The marines created "disturbance in the town out of all proportion to their numbers" taking the French artillery command post along with its barracks and the naval depot. At the same time the troops of the 17th Infantry Brigade had broken through the defences and were soon marching in the town. The Vichy defence was broken and Antisarane surrendered that evening, although substantial Vichy forces withdrew to the south.

At the end of Operation Ironclad, the Allied landings on Madagascar. Aerial views of French Bay Harbour, Diego Suarez. General view of the warships and British Merchant ships in harbour. © IWM A 8891

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