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Bartlett, H. M. (1954) The King's African Rifles: A Study in the Military History of East and Central Africa, 1890-1914. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The early growth of military forces in British Central Africa, British East Africa and Uganda was not governed by an established military policy, nor was there co-ordination between the three territories. During the period 1890 - 95, native levies were raised by Lugard, Johnson, Portal and the officials of the Imperial British East Africa Company. In 1895 these forces were organized into three regiments: the Central Africa Rifles; the Uganda Rifles, and the East Africa Rifles. During the 1890's these regiments were required, with the help of the Indian army, to establish internal security and to combat Arab opposition to the spread of European influence. In 1901 proposals were put forward for the amalgama-tion in a single regiment of all the military forces in east and central Africa, under the supervision of an inspector-General, seconded to the Foreign Office as military adviser. The purpose of this reform was to ensure a common policy in administration and training, and mutual support between the torritories in time of emergency. On 1 January 1902 the King's African Rifles was accordingly continued with an Initial establishment of six battalions, formed from the three early regiments an Indian Contingent, and the tribal levies of British Somaliland. During the ensuing 12 years the Regiment fought in several campaigns against the 'Mad Mullah' of Somaliland, and carried out a number of punitive expeditions in support of the extension of civil administration in British Hast Africa and Uganda. In spite of these growing commitments the constant demand for economy as the new protectorates strove to balance their budgets reduced the Regiment to a strength of three battalions, and in 1912 brought British East Africa to the verge of military collapse. Military consolidation had however, proceeded far enough to enable the threat of invasion to be averted in 1914.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:37

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