N’Djamena was founded as Fort-Lamy by French commander Émile Gentil on May 29, 1900, and named after Amédée-François Lamy, an army officer who had been killed in the Battle of Kousséri a few days earlier. It was a major trading city and became the capital of the region and nation.
During the Second World War, the French relied heavily upon the city's airport to move troops and supplies. On 21 January 1942, a lone GermanHe 111 of the Sonderkommando Blaich successfully bombed the airfield at Fort Lamy, destroying oil supplies and ten aircraft. Fort Lamy received its first bank branch in 1950, when the Bank of West Africa (BAO) opened a branch there.