Uniforms Of The Kings African Rifles

Published: 26 May 2023

[breakrow][bold]Disclaimer[/bold]:[breakrow][breakrow]This is work in progress and should not be seen as a detailed reference of KAR uniforms from 1900.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Notes:[/bold][breakrow][breakrow]My understanding for the lack of surviving African kurta's is that time expired uniforms were sold to Portuguese irregulars to differentiate them from locals and thus few survive.1 In contrast with Indian/Sikh kurta's, the African equivalent was collarless and had pointed pockets. Indian equivalents tend to have rectangular pockets with a short/high mandarin collar. I haven't seen a surviving KAR kurta to attest to the fabric. With regards to the red parade fez, few distinctions can be observed between the 1900 piece's and post war examples. Please note this is a hypothesis due to irregularity among the battalions and the fact that clothing was sourced from the Presidency.[breakrow][breakrow]I have included a short description of the evolution of the Central African Rifles uniform from 1890 to 1900 to give some insight into their difficulties. The Central African Rifles was merged with the KAR in 1902, but the dress stayed the same. [breakrow][breakrow]In the North End War of 1888, the native troops were issued with a "narrow band of brightly coloured cloth to tie around [their] head as a distinguishing mark", this set the scene for uniformity among African troops.2 A illustration by Major Lloyd Jones [1893] mentions how African troops carried home made equipment, consisting of two braces, a belt, blanket, long cartridge pockets, a pouch on a waist belt, and he wears a red fez, blue jersey [sewn by the man himself] white breeches, and occasionally blue puttees. 3 A similar instance is described in 1898 which adds the caption "anything procurable".4 Interestingly for full dress the KAR other ranks were supposed to wear boots [if sourced] but they rarely ever materialised, On service, blue jerseys and white breeches were worn.5 Come 1898, good conduct stripes were introduced, carrying an extra shilling [from originally 5 shillings a month] for those who had not been sentenced for imprisonment, confined to barracks for seven days, to a fine of more than five shillings, or corporal punishment.6 [breakrow][breakrow]The men's clothing and [equipment] was 'workmanlike and sufficient.' A khaki uniform was issued free each year and a blue uniform issued free on enlistment but kept up by the soldier himself.7 Following 2 CAR's formation in Zamba [January 1899], the Battalion was ordered to the Mauritius on Foreign Service after only a month of training. To save money, "all arms, equipment and uniforms were forwarded direct to Mauritius, and in the meantime the hastily raised battalion had only fatigue dress". Rainstorms and cold weather blew daily across the camp and the battalion was forced to purchase flannel locally to make temporary jackets. "Until greatcoats arrived, the troops paraded in their blankets, draped around their shoulders with the knot under the left ear."8 [breakrow][breakrow]_______________________________________________[breakrow][breakrow][bold]References:[/bold][breakrow][breakrow]1. P.78 The Uganda Rifles and Major Martyr's Nile Expedition of 1898. Tylden.[breakrow][breakrow]2. P.15 The Kings African Rifles, Bartlett.[breakrow][breakrow]3. P66. The Uganda Rifles and Major Martyr's Nile Expedition of 1898. Tylden.[breakrow][breakrow]4. Ibid.[breakrow][breakrow]5. Ibid.[breakrow][breakrow]6. P. 75 British Central Africa, 1896-1903: The accounts of Rifle Brigade Officers Seconded to the British Central African Army, Baker.[breakrow][breakrow]7. Ibid. 8.P. 29 The Kings African Rifles, Bartlett.[breakrow][breakrow] [breakrow]