|Jonana Mungai, King's African Rifles, Burma|
For some reason as google-fuing often does I ended up reading some really interesting online articles on the East African campaign in 1941 (did you know the Congolese Force Publique fought against the Italians? No, neither did I...). What I found increasingly frustrating though was how little could be found on colonial units of both sides that fought in the campaign, especially when it came to photographs of these troops. Both the British and Italians employed African troops in this campaign but it is really hard to find much in the way of photographic evidence, especially of the Italian Askaris.
However the growing theme I found was how little respect there is for the colonial troops of WW2 and their contribution in the various theatres of the war. Since 'Empire' has become a dirty word it seems that the historic colonisers rarely celebrate the veterans of ex-colonies and in the independent countries the fact they fought in the "white man's war" (a direct quote off one Kenyan website about Burma) means their sacrifice gets ignored there (especially in those countries who did not become independent until post-WW2).
|King's African Rifles, East Africa, 1941|
So what has this to do with wargaming? Not a great deal I suspect, however I am now determined that I will make some effort over the next twelve months to raise some small units of WW2 colonial troops such as the KAR and Burmese Naga as a small reminder of those that lost their lives in WW2 fighting for the allied cause were not all of European heritage. If their homelands feel they cannot recognise their contribution in the war against the Axis, there is no reason why we should not, even if only on the tabletop.