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Kings African Rifles (KAR)

The King's African Rifles (KAR) was a British regiment raised from British colonies and possessions in East Africa between 1902 and 1960. Soldiers (other ranks) of the King's African Rifles were recruited from Somaliland, British East Africa (Kenya from July 1920), Uganda, Nyasaland, and following its transfer to the British after World War I Tanganyika (previously German East Africa). Officers were seconded from the British Army (rather than a permanent commission to the force).

At the close of the nineteenth century three regiments, The Central African Regiment, The Ugandan Rifles, and the East African Rifles were operating in East Africa. These three were merged on 1 January 1902 to form the six battalions of the King's African Rifles. Its initial strength was recorded as 4,683 all ranks (including 104 British officers).

The KAR saw action in Somaliland against Hajj Muhammad bin Abdullah Hassan, known to the British as the Mad Mullah, and during World War I against the forces of Paul Erich von Lettow-Vorbeck in East Africa. By the end of World War I the KAR consisted of 22 battalions, 1,193 British officers, 1,497 British NCOs and 30,658 Africans.

After World War I the KAR was partially demobilized back to 6 battalions, the level it remained at until the outbreak of World War II.

During World War II the KAR saw action in Somalia and Abyssinia against the Italians, in Madagascar against the Vichy French, and against the Japanese in the reconquest of Burma (the first time they fought outside of Africa).

By the end of World War II 43 battalions, as well as an armored car section, artillery and other units, had been raised by the KAR.

In 1957 the regiment was renamed the East African Land Forces with Queen Elizabeth II as Colonel-in-Chief. The KAR was terminated in 1960 with independence being granted to British colonies in East Africa.

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