Britain and the tiny island of Zanzibar (which is now a part of Tanzania) fought a war against each other in 1896.
The war has gone down in history as the shorest war ever fought - it lasted just 38 minutes, 09:02–09:40 East Africa Time, on 27th August 1896.
The immediate cause of the war was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini
on 25 August 1896 and the subsequent succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash.
The British authorities preferred Hamud bin Muhammed,
who was more favourable to British interests, as sultan. In accordance with a treaty signed in 1886, a condition for accession
to the sultanate was that the candidate obtain the permission of the British consul
, and Khalid had not fulfilled this requirement. The British considered this a casus belli
and sent an ultimatum
to Khalid demanding that he order his forces to stand down and leave the palace. In response, Khalid called up his palace guard and barricaded himself inside the palace.
The ultimatum expired at 09:00 East Africa Time
(EAT) on 27 August, by which time the British had gathered three cruisers
, two gunboats
, 150 marines
and sailors, and 900 Zanzibaris in the harbour area. The Royal Navy contingent were under the command of Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson
whilst their Zanzibaris were commanded by Brigadier-General Lloyd Mathews
of the Zanzibar army (who was also the First Minister
of Zanzibar). Around 2,800 Zanzibaris defended the palace; most were recruited from the civilian population, but they also included the sultan's palace guard and several hundred of his servants and slaves. The defenders had several artillery pieces and machine guns which were set in front of the palace sighted at the British ships. A British bombardment which was opened at 09:02 set the palace on fire and disabled the defending artillery. A small naval action took place with the British sinking a Zanzibari royal yacht
and two smaller vessels, and some shots were fired ineffectually at the pro-British Zanzibari troops as they approached the palace. The flag at the palace was shot down and fire ceased at 09:40.
The sultan's forces sustained roughly 500 casualties, while only one British sailor was injured. It was a decisive British victory. The victory effectively marked the end of the Zanzibar Sultanate as a sovereign state and saw it established as part of the British Empire.
The Sultan's harem after the British bombardment
Anglo-Zanzibar War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last edited by Blackleaf; Aug 8th, 2013 at 06:39 AM..