1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Gambia | Punitive operations

West India Regiment burns down Gambian town of Gunjur.

[ 9 March 1894 ]

At 8 am, Rear Admiral Bedford ordered four British warships to commence the shelling of the coastal stockade and defences in the bush outside the Gambian coastal town of Gunjur, while it was attacked from the land by the First Battalion of the West India Regiment, commanded by Major Madden. According to a Reuters report, cited in the London Standard, ‘shortly afterwards, two hundred Bluejackets and Marines landed and marched on to the town, situated about a mile and a half from the landing place. On reaching the place, it was found to be deserted. Several dead bodies were lying about. The town was set on fire and destroyed by the British.’1

Another report published in several newspapers explained that Gunjur was already ‘almost a wreck when our men reached it,’ due to hours of ‘vigorous shelling’ by the British naval ships the previous day, but that nevertheless Major Madden had already ordered ‘the demolition of the place,’ which ‘lasted some time, everything being fired that would burn.’ The paper added that the ‘burden of the work,’ referring to both the battle and the demolition, had ‘fallen upon the West India Regiment, and the little force did its task splendidly.’2

An article in the London Gazette appears to confirm that it was Major Madden’s West India Regiment which burned the town. It noted that by the time the Bluejackets and Marines had begun to march on Gunjur, ‘it was seen to be in flames, and on arrival it was found to have been in the possession of the West India Regiment, who had occupied it that morning without opposition.’ The report added that it was decided that ‘Major Madden… should return to Bathurst (now Banjul) with his column, destroying on route the only remaining stockaded (coastal) towns of Saniang and Tujere.’3


  1. ‘Destruction of Gunjur,’ The Standard, 12 March 1894, p. 5.
  2. ‘The Gambia Expedition: Gonjor Demolished,’ The Lincolnshire Chronicle, 16 March 1884, p. 3. and ‘Fodi Salah Demoralised: A Complete British Victory,’ The Blackburn Standard, 17 March 1884, p. 7.
  3. The London Gazette, 4 May 1894, p. 2598-2599.

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