The all but forgotten contribution of African soldiers to the Allied victory in World War II

Along with KAR, (+RAR), British West African forces played major roles in the East African Campaign. In fact, it was the motorised Nigerian brigade of 11th African Division from the RWAFF that captured and occupied Mogadishu, the then capital of Italian Somaliland. Mussolini’s Italian forces had no defence, as they had previously been dealt heavy blows by South African forces. The Italians were easily defeated by the Nigerian forces.

The British Were Not Alone
While the British did most of the conscripting of African soldiers during WWII, they weren’t alone. Italy conscripted Africans, too. Collectively, there were more Ethiopians, Somalis, and Eritreans fighting for Italy during the East African Campaign than Italians.

Basically, Africans fought other Africans at the behest, and for the benefit, of feuding European colonialists. The French also conscripted soldiers from their African colonies (Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. It took 50 years for the French state to express its “undying gratitude” to the African soldiers who fought on its behalf).

Historically, European colonial powers used Africans as their military workhorses.. The British Empire, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, France, and Spain all utilised African soldiers, who were commonly known as ‘Askaris’.

The regiments were from British East Africa (now Kenya and part of Uganda), Sudan, British Somaliland,, Northern & Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia & Zimbabwe), Nyasaland (now Malawi), and South Africa. Essentially, the British could obtain soldiers from any territory they controlled in Africa.

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