The British War
Cemetery lies down a small dusty
side street on the outskirts of Diego Suarez.
It is immaculate. Bordered by bright flowering bushes
the graves stand silently alone. 315 servicemen are buried here,
including 10 South African and 166 British soldiers. The Unknown
Soldier’s grave was very moving.
It commemorates the British invasion of Diego in May 1942. The port
is a naturally protected deep harbour and effectively controlled
the western Indian Ocean. Madagascar was under Vichy control and
could not be allowed to fall into either German or Japanese hands.
After winning the battle for the port the whole island fell
under Allied control six months and one day later.
The extra day ensured that the French troops received significantly enhanced pension rights.
Unfortunately, after the war, Britain 'returned' Madagscar to the
French in exchange for Zanzibar.