Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
A History of The King’s African Rifles and East African Forces
By Malcolm Page
ISBN 9781848844384
Published by Pen and Sword (
GBP £14.99


The Colonial Regiments when compared to the British Regiments receive very little coverage. This book helps to rectify this and it is an excellent history of this superb fighting formation. The King’s African Rifles (KAR) has an interesting background and one which is described well by the author.

There are differing opinions on the merits of Colonial Rule but it is hard to deny that those African countries which were subject to British Administration enjoyed a period of stability. This cannot be said for them after the British withdrew. One of the main reasons and bulwarks for that stability was that each country developed its own indigenous army. These armies were trained and officered by the British and these units were the pride of the nation. Of these formations the KAR stands out and it is probably the best known of the East African forces.

This outstanding text is the first complete history of the East African Forces and the author had the privilege of serving in the Somaliland Scouts for many years. He has had access to new material and has researched the history of each unit from its formation until Independence. No doubt many future researchers and historians will be pleased with the author’s excellent work and the quality of his research is highly commendable.

The book opens with a description of how the initial units were raised and the KAR’s first campaign against the “Mad Mullah” (1900 – 1920). The activities of the unit in the First World War (in particular the fighting against the German East African forces) are noted, and the lull in the inter-war period is described. The KAR were very active against the Italian East African Empire and in World War 2. In the latter war they served in numerous campaigns including Madagascar, Mauritius and Burma. Post World War 2 activities included the Malaya Emergency and Kenya with the Mau Mau. The text concludes with the handing over of the Government on Independence Day.

The author relates not just the hard facts of the KAR’s history but he also uses many “personal” experiences. These interesting anecdotes enable the reader to understand the hardships that the men experienced. Not only did they have to fight the enemy but they also had to fight against the terrain.

For those interested in the Colonial Forces of British East Africa this book will become a necessity. It is written in an easy to follow manner and is full of details. The author has conducted excellent research and one must congratulate him on his superb effort.

August 2011