The story begins with the political background to the British administration in East and Central Africa up to the close of the nineteenth century. During the last decade of that century three regiments were formed which were the forerunners of the K.A.R - The Central African Regiment, The Uganda Rifles and the East African Rifles. These saw action in various expeditions and campaigns, in Mauritius, Somaliland, The Ashanti War, The Gambia Expedition, Expeditions against the Nandi and others. On 1 January 1902 the King’s African Rifles came into being, incorporating the original regiments as battalions, six battalions: 1st and 2nd (Central Africa); 3rd (East Africa); 4th and 5th (Uganda) and 6th (Somaliland) Battalions. The total strength was returned as 4,683 officers and men, including 104 British officers. For the new regiment the main operations before WWI were the campaigns against the Mad Mullah of Somaliland involving four expeditions; he wasn’t finally seen off until 1920. During the Great War there were 21 battalions and at peak strength in July 1918 the K.A.R. numbered 1,193 officers, 1,497 British NCOs and 30,658 Africans; casualties amounted to 5,117 with a further 3,039 died of disease. The regiment’s part in the campaign against von Lettow-Vorbeck in East Africa is fully described.
The regiment was again in action during WWII taking part in three separate campaigns: the defeat of the Italians in Somalia and Abyssinia; the occupation of Madagascar against the opposition of the Vichy French; and the reconquest of Burma when, for the first time, K.A.R. battalions fought outside the continent of Africa. This must be one of the best regimental histories ever written.
Keywords: history, historical, africa, african, world war one, world war two, wwi, wwii, first world war, second world war, east africa, british empire, somaliland, kenya, uganda, nyasaland, tanganyika, war, warfare, military