Forgotten Wars

Hexi Bloke

War Hero
In light of many people moaning and groaning about our Nations past, and in this case specifically our military past, have some of our past wars/conflicts/campaigns/police actions etc, been intentionally 'swept under the carpet'? Are we now, or in the past, embarrassed by some of our military activities?
I recently watched the TV Series, by Tony Robinson, titled Britains Forgotten Wars. On the whole I found it interesting however, I noted, (and I think Im right in stating this), that when one episode was dealing with the Mau, Mau, (Kenya), uprising, it was the only episode that did not have a British Veteran of that action interviewed? Why would that be? All episodes are available on catch up I believe.
Any thoughts would be most interesting.
 

Hexi Bloke

War Hero
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The legal action could be launched after an attempt by 40,000 Kenyans to sue the government for alleged maltreatment during the Kenyan Emergency. Pictured: Members of the Devon Regiment pictured in 1954 as they search home looking for Mau Mau soldiers during the conflict
 

Hexi Bloke

War Hero
You've answered your own question, I suspect.
Ive been trying to find some mention of British Veterans, there seems to be very little if anything. A campaign medal was issued, there seems to be no mention of an association, or specific actions, British casualties etc. I appreciate my post above mentioning the legal action but surely somewhere there must be some mention of units who served there. Where is their side of the story?
 

Hexi Bloke

War Hero
94 Officers and Men were killed in the Kenya Emergency 1952 - 1963.
Very little mention of them apart from their names on a memorial in Palace Barracks.
 
Dhofar in Oman not a mention of it anywhere .
 

Hexi Bloke

War Hero
Dhofar in Oman not a mention of it anywhere .
Exactly, but the question is why. Why are we, (the Nation), not remembering these campaigns? As Ive mentioned at the start of this thread, you hear nothing or very little from Veterans who served in them. Ive read the odd book about Dhofar and Oman, mostly SAS exploits. But nothing on Kenya apart from the Mau Mau side?
 
Ive been trying to find some mention of British Veterans, there seems to be very little if anything. A campaign medal was issued, there seems to be no mention of an association, or specific actions, British casualties etc. I appreciate my post above mentioning the legal action but surely somewhere there must be some mention of units who served there. Where is their side of the story?
There was a shuttle between Malaya and Kenya of both Army units and Colonial police personnel. @par avion might be able to help.
 
Exactly, but the question is why. Why are we, (the Nation), not remembering these campaigns? As Ive mentioned at the start of this thread, you hear nothing or very little from Veterans who served in them. Ive read the odd book about Dhofar and Oman, mostly SAS exploits. But nothing on Kenya apart from the Mau Mau side?

In the case of Dhofar we weren't there it was all hushed up . There was supposed to be a release of documents about the coup in 1970 after 50 years but it never happened
 

Hexi Bloke

War Hero
In the case of Dhofar we weren't there it was all hushed up . There was supposed to be a release of documents about the coup in 1970 after 50 years but it never happened
I remember seeing old sweats in my Regt having a Dhofar clasp on their GSM.
 

chimera

LE
Moderator
Kenya (and Dhofar) is certainy mentioned in the list of wars/conflicts since WW2 read out at my local Remembrance Ceremony

But if you want forgotten wars? I'll give you a starter for ten for a forgotten war: I saw some memorial plaques in a cathedral recently and had to look it up:

 
Kenya was quite low key compared with other concurrent military involvements
The were only a handful of British Infantry regiments involved at any time.
The African GSM was a relative rarity and post Mau Mau years few soldiers, unless they served in a regiment that had done a tour in Kenya would have recognised the ribbon, compared with the more widely worn GSMs.

95 killed is, I believe a bit misleading, that is more likely to be a tally of all those who died from all causes and a glance down the units involved seemed to indicate this**

While I am a firm believer in all service personnel who died in service being remembered and memorialised whatever the cause of death.
the number who died as a result of hostile action against mau mau is only a small proportion of that number

Seven of the RAF personnel were killed in a DC3 crash in Kenya whilst en-route from Malta to Durban and while a tragedy and a price of Empire, it probably should have no influence on the ranking of Kenya in the Small Wars league.

**Link;
Palace Memorial Garden Kenya
 
There was a shuttle between Malaya and Kenya of both Army units and Colonial police personnel. @par avion might be able to help.
Not of Colonial Police. Pre war the Malayan police force was part of the Malayan civil service with officers from Inspector rank being recruited from chaps who had attended good public schools. Most of these were interned during the Japanese occupation and were in poor shape when released in 1945.

When the Emergency kicked off in 1948 and an expansion of the police was needed they received an influx from British members of the Palestine police which had just been made unemployed when the Palestine mandate became Israel. These were a bunch of rough diamonds who were not quite gentlemen having being recruited from WW2 Commando and SF other rank types, so there was some conflict between them.

Later as the police formed jungle companies as part of the Police Field Force, which were basically independent light infantry companies, many more military veterans were recruited, both officers and other ranks. Bill Sparks of OP Frankton/Cockershell hero's fame was a Malayan Police Inspector for a year.

The Kenyan Police by contrast recruited both direct from Britain and amongst the white setter population for police ranks of Inspector and above. White settlers also had to do National Service in the Police Reserve or the Territorial Kenya Regiment, doing their basic training at the Depot of the Royal Rhodesia Regiment in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia.

There were five British battalions and six battalions of the Kings African Rifles committed to operations in Kenya against the Mau Mau during the hight of the campaign between 1952 to 1954 carrying out cordon and searches in Nairobi to disrupt the Mau Mau support infrastructure and to hunt them down in their lairs in the Aberdare forests. The Mau Mau were drawn mainly from the Kikuyu tribe.

As the Malayan Emergency ran from 1948 to 1960 and the Kenya Emergency from 1952 to 1960 its possible a British battalion could have served in both. I Black Watch, 1 Glosters and 1 RNF all served in Korea between 1950 -52 and later served in Kenya. Battalions of the Kings African Rifles served in both campaigns.

Malaya was far more intense than Kenya as the CT's in Malaya had been supplied with a full suite of light weapons and explosives from 1943 onwards courtesy of Force 136 SOE when they were the Malayan Peoples Anti Japanese Army in expectation that they would rise up against the Japanese in late 1945 when the British launched Operation Zipper the invasion and reconquest of Malaya. When the British reoccupied Malaya they came out of the jungle but hid most of their weapons for a later date. Their leader - Chin Peng was awarded an OBE and took part in the Victory parade in London in 1945 with a contingent of his men. In 1948 he and his men returned to the jungle, obtained their cached weapons and launched their campaign becoming the Malayan Peoples Anti British Army.

By contrast the Mau Mau had few weapons. The problem was finding them in their hideouts in the vast Aberdare Forrest. Which is where our very own Frank Kitson KRRC/RGJ Northern Ireland fame first came to notice as a Captain working as a District Miitary Intelligence Officer. He was instruemental in forming 'Pseudo Groups' consisting of turned Mau Mau operating with a white Special Branch or Field Intelligence Assistant Handler to locate them in their hideouts, gain intelligence, and call in regular troops to take them out.

Many Rhodesian Officers and SNCO's served on attachment in Kenya, most of whom had also served on operations in Malaya. The situation was similar in some ways to the early days of the Rhodesian war from 1966 to 1975 before the collapse of Portugeese rule in Mozambique caused that campaign to go from a low level insurgency to a full scale war in 1976. General John Hickman, eventual commander of the Rhodesian Army in 1977 had served on attachment in Kenya and had witnessed the pseudo groups in action was a big mover in getting the Rhodesian Selous Scouts formed operating with the same concept.

Frank Kitson wrote a book about his experiences called Gangs and Counter Gangs published in 1960 it is very rare. He also spoke about his experiences in Kenya in his book Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping published in 1971. He also served with his battalion in Malaya as a company commander in the late fifties.

Two books which give a good overview of the Mau Mau rebellion which are reasonably priced on Amazon and are available on kindle are:

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Kenya was quite low key compared with other concurrent military involvements
The were only a handful of British Infantry regiments involved at any time.
The African GSM was a relative rarity and post Mau Mau years few soldiers, unless they served in a regiment that had done a tour in Kenya would have recognised the ribbon, compared with the more widely worn GSMs.

95 killed is, I believe a bit misleading, that is more likely to be a tally of all those who died from all causes and a glance down the units involved seemed to indicate this**

While I am a firm believer in all service personnel who died in service being remembered and memorialised whatever the cause of death.
the number who died as a result of hostile action against mau mau is only a small proportion of that number

Seven of the RAF personnel were killed in a DC3 crash in Kenya whilst en-route from Malta to Durban and while a tragedy and a price of Empire, it probably should have no influence on the ranking of Kenya in the Small Wars league.

**Link;
Palace Memorial Garden Kenya
The Rhodesian Light Infantry lost 135 men who are listed on its memorial statue during its existance from 1961 to 1980. Most died during the intensive war years from 1976 to 1979. Eighty five were killed in action and fifty were killed on active service.This included vehicle accidents, helicopter crashes, ND's, drowning on river crossing and in one case an LE officer being attacked and killed by a lion while delivering a lecture or O Group.

The RAF carried out bombing raids on Mau Mau hid outs in the Aberdare forest to little effect other than wounding wild animals such as elephant, rhino and buffalo that in turn took out their anger on hapless army patrols, claiming the lives of no small number of men. A number of blue on blue deaths were caused by bombings and artillery barrages.

As an aside, a number of the Mau Mau leaders were former veterans of the KAR in Burma during WW2.
 

Hexi Bloke

War Hero
Kenya (and Dhofar) is certainy mentioned in the list of wars/conflicts since WW2 read out at my local Remembrance Ceremony

But if you want forgotten wars? I'll give you a starter for ten for a forgotten war: I saw some memorial plaques in a cathedral recently and had to look it up:

I had heard of the Ashanti wars but didn't realise the length ....1824 to 1900!
Thank you for that one, was an interesting read. I looked up the gong. And six VC's!
 

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