The Thiaroye Massacre: Senegal 1944

0 Posted by - June 15, 2023 - Black History, BLACKS IN THE MILITARY

In late 1944, there was another run-in between colonial forces and native African forces. This time it would be the Tirailleurs Senegalais who turned their guns on the French army. Reasons varied, with the main thing being inequality of payment when it came to World War II POWs and pension for African troops. The mutiny led to a violent event known as the Thiaroye Massacre.


The Tirailleurs Senegalais

Based in Senegal, the Tirailleurs Senegalais were basically a fighting force made up of African troops. Large numbers of French troops could rarely be allocated to different colonies. As a result, the country bolstered its numbers with native warriors who were viewed as subjects of France. The mutiny in question began as the tirailleur unit didn’t get the paid the same as French soldiers.

France managed to avoid paying similar pensions by making payments based on race and living costs. It was decided that the colony’s living expenses were lower than France’s. This along with other slights such as back pay owed for POWs prompted the mutiny on November 30. The French response to the mutiny would be the Thiaroye Massacre.


French Response

Some 1,300 Tirailleurs Senegalais would turn their guns on the French prompting the colonial power to fire back, killing tens. The revolt was ended with no French casualties. Several of the tirailleurs were sentenced to time in prison for their involvement the following year.

In the French press, the tirailleurs were painted as being likely to lash out since they received decent treatment from the German forces during the war. Of course, this was not true and France simply didn’t pay what it owed to its African troops. To prevent further incidents of mutiny among the armed forces, France moved to get the back pay settled for tirailleurs still in service.



  • Raphael Baldos October 15, 2017 - 3:26 pm

    This piece of story is absolutely wrong. If you want to explain correctly this massacre, then you should turn to the work of Armelle Mabon, a French researcher whose work is a recognized authority.

    • Taliseh December 13, 2019 - 10:58 am

      I agree, this story is incorrect. It was the French who would slaughter because they refused to pay the Sengalese for demanding they support them in the war. Pleae correct.

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