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King's African Rifles (Kenya)

Pre-independence Kenya

Last modified: 2019-04-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: kenya | kings african rifles |
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King's African Rifles (KAR)

Traditionally "Rifle" regiments did not carry Colours, but the Colonel successfully argued that the KAR were "rifles" in name only and secured approval for the presentation of Colours in 1924 for all six battalions (1st and 2nd in Nyasaland, 3rd and 5th in Kenya, 4th in Uganda, and 6th in Tanganyika). The 5th Battalion disbanded in 1925, but was re-formed in 1930 and took possession of its old Colours again.  Each battalion carried a King's and a Regimental Colour. These Colours would be very similar to the set which was recently posted on FOTW for the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment.

King's Colour: Union Jack with gold fringe. In the center a gold edged circlet inscribed "The King's African Rifles", the circle surmounted by a crown. Inside the circle the battalion number in roman numerals. On the horizontal bars of the St. George Cross were four WWI battle honours inscribed in black on gold scrolls: "Kilimanjaro", "Narungombe", Nyangao", "East Africa 1914-18". There were two on either side, but I am not sure of the arrangement. I would guess the pairs were arranged horizontally rather than vertically.

Regimental Colour: royal blue, with in the centre a gold edged red circle inscribed and surmounted by a crown as above. Inside the circle: a "lion sejant" embroidered in gold. The circle was surrounded by the Union Wreath (roses, thistles and shamrocks). The battalion number in roman numerals was embroidered in gold in the dexter canton. Two pre-1914 battle honours on gold scrolls: "Ashanti 1900", "Somaliland 1901-04". I'm not sure, but I would guess these were placed centrally in the blue field on either side of the Union Wreath (Since there were only two battle honours they would not be mounted on a laurel wreath as for most regiments).

These stands of Colours were carried until the early 1950s when most if not all the battalions received new sets. I don't know what happened to them at independence, except that the Uganda battalion immediately discarded theirs.
Todd Mills, 23 April 1997

The Regimental Colours of the 6th Battalion (British Somaliland Battalion 1902-1910) are in the custody of the National Army Museum in Chelsea (London).  Accession Numbers:  1963-12-20-5 to -6  (Source: King's African Rifles and East African Forces Association website).
Peter Edwards, 28 Aug 2017