Monday, 27 August 2007

The 38 Minute War

On 27th August 1896 Zanzibar lost to Britain in a 38 minute war (9:02 AM-9:40 AM). After the Sultan of Zanzibar died his nephew Bargash seized power but the British, standing by with 5 warships in the harbour, ordered him to abdicate in favour of a candidate more conducive to a harmonious relationship with the British government. The ultimatum to do so ran out at 9 am and the warships promptly sank Bargash’s armed yacht, landed 900 marines to support the local ‘loyalist’ troops, and shelled the palace. Bargash fled to the German consulate and the war was over. Some people say it took 45 minutes but either way it is the shortest war on record. As a final affront to the self-esteem of the residents of Zanzibar the British demanded payment for the cost of the shells.

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