The King’s African Rifles & East African Forces Association

The King’s African Rifles

& East African Forces Association

1947 to the Present Day

Brigadier David Williams MBE

President KAR and EAF Association

The KAR and EAF Association was formed as an Officers’ Dinner Club in 1947 on the orders of the Colonel Commandant, Major General W. A. Dimoline CB CBE CMG DSO MC. Its purpose being to keep officers who served with the Land Forces of East and Central Africa in touch. In the constitution, “East and Central Africa” was ruled to consist of all the territories in the former East Africa Command including Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia.   


East Africa Command


Central Africa Command Flash

     The exclusion of Southern Rhodesia became anomalous when the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formed in 1953, with the establishment of Central Africa Command. This embraced the land forces of Southern Rhodesia as well as those of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR), the askari regiment from Southern Rhodesia, has remained outside the Association.

     The history of our African regiments has always featured prominently in our gatherings because of a universal desire to preserve and honour the memory of the askari. They have a proud legacy from over eighty years of loyal service to the British Crown. 

     Battalions of the KAR were originally raised in the 1880s in Kenya, Nyasaland, Somaliland and Uganda to curb the slave trade and provide security. In Northern Rhodesia, the military wing of the Northern Rhodesia Police (NRP) achieved the same purpose. These regiments came of age in the First World War, fighting in the harsh, bush war in East Africa when the KAR expanded to twenty-two battalions, and the NRP deployed two battalions.  Additionally, Southern Rhodesia provided two battalions of the Rhodesia Native Regiment (RNR).

     In the Second World War, the KAR grew to forty-four battalions, including battalions of the 6th KAR from Tanganyika. The Northern Rhodesia Regiment (NRR) deployed eight battalions. Together with the Somaliland Camel Corp and the Somaliland Scouts, and supported by the East African Artillery, medical and logistics units, they helped defeat the Italians in the strategically important Horn of Africa in 1940 and 1941. In 1942 they defeated the Vichy French in Madagascar to deny the Japanese submarine bases in the Indian Ocean. As part of the 11th (East African) Division, they helped defeat the Japanese in Burma in 1944 and 1945. 1st Battalion Rhodesian African Rifles (1 RAR – formerly the RNR), from Southern Rhodesia, also fought in the East African division in Burma. 

KAR askari marching into Kalewa.  Still on alert for stray Jap snipers or enemy shelling from the East bank of the river. The askari were jubilant at having reached their objective

     The period 1945 to independence in 1961 to 1964, saw 1, 2 and 3 KAR, 1 NRR and 1 RAR engaged in the Malayan Emergency from 1952 to 1958; and KAR units deployed on operations against the Mau Mau in Kenya between 1952 and 1960. A large number of British Army officers, including many conscripted as national servicemen, served on secondment in the KAR and EAF in this period. Some officers remained with KAR and NRR battalions for a short time after independence when the colonial regiments were subsumed into their new, National Armies.   

      The Kenya Regiment and the Royal Rhodesia Regiment provided many colonial officers, warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers for the askari units in WW2 and subsequently.

     The original Officers’ Dinner Club evolved into an Association with membership extended to include Warrant Officers and senior non-commissioned officers, recognising their important contribution.   Numbers have inevitably declined over the years. In 2005, the Association had over six hundred members. In 2020, over sixty years since the last askari nation achieved independence, there are still over three hundred members. 

     This remarkable sustainment is due to the commitment of those who served with askari, including many former National Service officers who developed a deep love of Africa during their time with the KAR and EAF. Their continuing loyalty is facilitated by the twice yearly publication of a first class regimental journal, Rhino Link, and the tools of the digital age, including email and an excellent website:


     Close links are maintained with Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda through the Defence Advisors in London who attend the annual dinner. Some members hold appointments in the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League whose charter is to provide welfare support to pre-independence askari veterans and their widows. An askari appeal fund, launched by the Association, raised £342,000 towards this noble cause.

     The emphasis in recent years has been to preserving and honouring the proud military legacy of our askari. This has always been marked with attendance at the KAR and NRR plots at the annual Field of Remembrance ceremony outside Westminster Abbey on the Thursday before Remembrance Sunday.     

HRH Prince Philip at the Field of Remembrance talking to Maj-Gen Patrick Stone, former President of the KAR and EAF Association.

     Each year in March, on Commonwealth Day, we lay a wreath at the annual ceremony at the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill, London.

Capt David Nickol, WW2 veteran in 6 KAR, after laying a wreath at the Memorial Gates.

     In 2003, the Association established a memorial plot at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. This was comprehensively modified in 2014, to include displays which illustrate the history of the KAR and East African Forces, with due emphasise to our askari.   

Three history shields at the KAR and EAF Memorial Plot at the National Memorial Arboretum

     In 2018, the statue of an askari in 1914 field order was  added, thanks to the generosity of Professor Peter Simpson who served as a National Service Officer with 1 KAR in Nyasaland.  

The completed KAR and EAF Memorial Plot at the National Memorial Arboretum in 2019

     In 2015, a permanent memorial display was inaugurated in the corridor of the Old College building at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This tells the story of the contribution to the British crown of all African regiments, including those in the Royal West African Frontier Forces. This African corner is fittingly located at the seat of all British Army officer education where some cadets from our askari nations are trained.

African Corner at the East End of the Od College corridor at the RMA Sandhurst

      The legacy has been further honoured with the unveiling in 2017 of the African and Caribbean War Memorial in Windrush Square, Brixton which bears the titles of formations, regiments and units in the KAR and East African Forces.

African and Caribbean War Memorial in Windrush Square, Brixton

       The centenary of the German surrender in November 2018 was commemorated at a formal parade and ceremony on 25th November 2018 at Mbala in NE Zambia. As President of the KAR and East African Forces Association, I attended and laid a wreath at the memorial.  

     Unlike British Regiments and the Gurkhas, we lack a museum. Thanks to the resolve of our Vice-President, Brigadier John Hemsley, we have established a close link with the Bristol Records Office who have agreed to provide a depository of our archives and artefacts. Some archives, including an extensive library of photographs, are held by the Imperial War Museum and the National Army Museum. The Bodleian library in Oxford also holds extensive archives of the KAR and EAF history. 

     We are fortunate to have Harry Fecitt, the dedicated historian who served with Zambia Regt and is prominent in the GWAA, as a member of our Association. Harry’s extensive research and writing, captured in regular articles for Rhino Link and on his website (, provide a rich record for future generations.  

     As members who served fade away, the tasks of remembrance will be performed by their children and grand-children, so that the contribution and sacrifices of our askari will never be forgotten.