“In the author’s engaging style, Soldiers, Airmen, Spies, and Whisperers provides a clearer picture of the history and political relations of the Gold Coast during the Second World War. It tells the story of the Takoradi resupply mission and British espionage and intelligence misisions, bringing to life a quiet and covert war of propaganda, spying, and smuggling. It also conveys the flavor of life in the Gold Coast both for the colonial administrators and for the African populations under colonial rule.… A valuable addition to historical literature.”
James L. A. Webb, Jr., associate professor of history, Colby College
The fall of France in June 1940 left the Gold Coast surrounded by potentially hostile French colonies that had rejected de Gaulle’s call to continue the fight, signaling instead their support for Marshall Pétain’s pro-German Vichy regime.
In Soldiers, Airmen, Spies, and Whisperers, Nancy Lawler describes how the Gold Coast Regiment, denuded of battalions fighting in East Africa, was rapidly expanded at home to meet the threat of invasion. Professor Lawler also shows how the small airport at Takoradi was converted into a major Royal Air Force base and came to play a vital role in the supply of aircraft to the British Eighth Army in North Africa.
The importance of the Gold Coast to the Allied war effort necessitated the creation of elaborate propaganda and espionage networks, the activities of which ranged from rumor-mongering to smuggling and sabotage. The London-based Special Operations Executive moved into West Africa, where it worked closely with de Gaulle’s Free French Intelligence. Lawler presents a vivid account of SOE’s major triumph—masterminding the migration of a substantial part of the Gyaman people from Vichy Côte d’Ivoire to the Gold Coast.
As she looks at the plethora of military and civil organizations involved in the war, Lawler throws light on decision making in Brazzaville, London, and Washington. This is an account of World War II in one colony, but the story is firmly set within the wider context of a world at war.
Nancy Ellen Lawler is Professor Emeritus of Economics and History at Oakton Community College. She is the author of Soldiers of Misfortune: Ivoirien Tirailleurs of World War II, and, with John Hunwick, co-editor of A Cloth of Many Colored Silks. Dr. Lawler currently lives in Wales and continues to work on West African history. More info →
Save 20% ($44)
US and Canada only
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
The dark years of European fascism left their indelible mark on Africa. As late as the 1970s, Angola was still ruled by white autocrats, whose dictatorship was eventually overthrown by black nationalists who had never experienced either the rule of law or participatory democracy.Empire
Kola is a “food-drug”—like coffee, tea, coca, and tobacco—a substance considered neither food nor medicine, but used to induce “flights of fancy.” It is incorporated into rites of passage and ceremonies to cement treaties and contracts; its medicinal properties were first recognized outside Africa in the twelfth century; and it is a legal and popular stimulant among West African Muslims.Kola
This is a study of the African veterans of a European war. It is a story of men from the Cote d‘Ivoire, many of whom had seldom traveled more than a few miles from their villages, who served France as tirailleurs (riflemen) during World War II.Thousands of them took part in the doomed attempt to hold back the armies of the Third Relch in 1940; many were to spend the rest of the war as prisoners in Germany or Occupied France.Others
The askari, African soldiers recruited in the 1890s to fill the ranks of the German East African colonial army, occupy a unique space at the intersection of East African history, German colonial history, and military history.Lauded by Germans for their loyalty during the East Africa campaign of World War I, but reviled by Tanzanians for the violence they committed during the making of the colonial state between 1890 and 1918, the askari have been poorly understood as historical agents.
Sign up to be notified when new African Studies titles come out.
We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.