Royal West African Fronter Forces.

Afrika Corpse

Old-Salt
Their service in Burma is still taken very seriously by their successors in Ghana.
HQ of the Ghana Armed Forces is Burma Camp in Accra.
2nd Bn Ghana Regiment is based in Myohaung Barracks, Takoradi; their insignia is still a black tarantula on a yellow background (same as 81st (West Africa) Division).

2Bn celebrate Myohaung Day every year with a parade and massive p*ss-up, attended by all sorts of big-wigs including High Commisioners and Military Attachés. Last of the Myohaung veterans in Takoradi died a few years ago; they were the stars of the show up till then.

I've a feeling it's also celebrated/commemorated in Sierra Leone
 

Breeks

Crow
Hi Rampant - I didn't think it worked. I will try it one other way, as a regular attachment. If that fails then we could do it via email. However, that could defeat the chance to get anything out to a wider audience. Photobucket is a new system to me.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
E-mail on way

Now edit your posts so that your remove all personal information, there's is an edit post button next to the reply on each of your own posts.

I recommend you set up at Photobucket account for future use as it can be mighty handy to get images to a wider audience.

Once I recieve your pictures I shall post them on this thread.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
One of Breeks' photos:

RWAFF Camp Regiment Emblem.jpg

It is very likely that this was in Northern Nigeria in or around Kano, going by the info provided by Breeks. Kano was the main administrative centre for the colonial authourities in Northern Nigeria.

There was a distinct class divide amongst Nigeria hands during the period. Those Colonial Officers and Soldiers stationed in the Northern Provinces considered themselves the better class than those from the Southern Provinces.

A Good Memoir of Colonial experience in the North is this book: Scorpion for Tea: Or, to Attempt the Impossible: Amazon.co.uk: Rosemary Hollis: Books
 

Breeks

Crow
Thanks for your assistance, Rampant! As I include more pictures it would be helpful to know if anyone can identify any other locations and any of the personnel that will be shown. As I said in an earlier thread these will be photos I inherited from my late uncle, Donald Wilkinson. He may have been known as Donnie outside of the family.
They generally show shots on base(s) as well as Egypt, etc., when he was on furlough. Just a few personnel photos indicate the following - "Details Camp 4(ME) Group". This might offer a clue to someone. Thanks in anticipation.
 
Pedant's Corner: An old chap I knew who served with 81 WA Recce Regt used to get really annoyed at people calling their div sign a 'Tarantula', because Tarantulas are American, not African. The spider badge was for Ananse the Spider, who was a sort of Robin Hood character in West African myths and legends, who won his battles by stealth and guile. General Woolner, the first GOC 81 WA Div, chose Ananse the Spider as a suitable symbol for the division.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Pedant's Corner: An old chap I knew who served with 81 WA Recce Regt used to get really annoyed at people calling their div sign a 'Tarantula', because Tarantulas are American, not African. The spider badge was for Ananse the Spider, who was a sort of Robin Hood character in West African myths and legends, who won his battles by stealth and guile. General Woolner, the first GOC 81 WA Div, chose Ananse the Spider as a suitable symbol for the division.
Even more pedantic: The New World tarantulas are part of the family Theraphosoidea, (Tarantula - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) which also includes Harpactirinae or Baboon Spiders (Harpactirinae - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), or Stromatoplemina (Stromatopelma calceatum (feather leg baboon) - all-infos ) common in Africa, the orginal Tarantula is a wolf spider found near the Italian town of Taranto ,from which it gains it's name: Lycosa tarantula - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . The family of tarantulas contains over 900 different species found all over the world. :razz:

Feather Legged Baboon Spider:

Feather Legged Baboon Spider.jpg

[video=youtube;3HowAQWNk2M]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HowAQWNk2M&feature=related[/video]

Though the Ananse stuff is true, being one of the common trickster tropes in world mythology, like the Raven in First Nation cultures of the Pacific Coast or the Coyote in Amerindian legend.
 

Afrika Corpse

Old-Salt
An old chap I knew who served with 81 WA Recce Regt used to get really annoyed at people calling their div sign a 'Tarantula',
I stand corrected – the current badge is definitely a spider (Ananse or Gizzo) - but “tarantula” sounds more warry than “spider”.

Even James Bond shows respect to tarantulas; 007 could never be afraid of spiders.
 
Any history buffs can add to my search re. my fathers W.W.2 mob the R.W.A.F.F. in Burma? I've never met any other man who served in this regiment.
Yes, my father was a 2nd Lieutenant in the GCR, in Burma from 1944-46. He died in 1986. I'm in possession of his bush hat, kukri, an itinerary of his movements during the period, some photographs including a formal group photo of Officers and WOs, and some postwar correspondence with his platoon who had returned by then to the Gold Coast. Since Dad was MOST reluctant to talk about his war, I`d like to know more, although I realise by now most information will be at best second hand. Can scan and share documents by email with those having a bonafide interest.
 

Attachments

Ian,

Get hold of a copy of the excellent 'War Bush: 81st (West African) Division in Burma 1943-45'. That will give you a very good idea of what the West Africans generally and 81 Div in particular, were up to from 1943-45. It's one of the best published divisional histories from the Burma Campaign.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0859552675/?tag=armrumser-21

Even if your father served with 82nd (West African) Division, 'War Bush' will still give you plenty of info, as the two divisions fought alongside each other in the Kaladan Valley, for the final assault on Myohaung in late 1944/early 1945. Sadly, there isn't a published history of the 82nd WA Division.

5th, 7th & 8th GCR served with 5th WA Bde in 81st WA Div, while 1st, 2nd & 3rd GCR served with 2nd WA Bde in 82nd WA Div. Do you happen to know which battalion he was with?
 
It certainly does, which is a shame from the book point of view, but a lot of the places mentioned re. 81 Div in the First Kaladan Campaign were the same places visited/attacked by 82nd Div in the 2nd Kaladan Campaign. As I said, the operations of the 82nd Div are discussed where the two divisions were serving together during the final assault on Myohaung.

81 Div returned home after Myohaung, leaving 82 Div to fight on through 1945. One of 82 Div's most important later battles was Kanwa, where they were the 'hammer' striking the remnants of the Japanese 55th Division at, while 3 Commando Brigade and 25 Indian Div were the 'anvil'; landing from the sea onto the Japanese escape route.
 
Dear Breeks,
I would love to see the pics of your uncle in the RWAFF, as my father was in the regiment at about the same time, and could possibly be in those photographs.
many thanks,
ericthered
 

Infury8r

Old-Salt
Any history buffs can add to my search re. my fathers W.W.2 mob the R.W.A.F.F. in Burma? I've never met any other man who served in this regiment.
Dad's now 94, and has a strange mix of dementia & incredible memory of details of his Service history. He spent time in the Gold Coast (Ghana) & Nigeria/Lagos.

Shipped out of Freetown 28th May, 1944 via Gib, Alexandria, Suez Canal, to the intended destination of Bombay (East coast of India). Actually disembarked in Karachi (West coast) July 1944, then troop-train across India to Calcutta.

From there to a holding area at Cox's Bazar.

Headed south, hugging coastline, apparently in a 'Landing Craft' type boat.

Arrived at Toungup & across the Arakan mountain range.

More general info here:-

British Military History

Hope this helps.
 

cuchulain

Old-Salt
Pedant's Corner: An old chap I knew who served with 81 WA Recce Regt used to get really annoyed at people calling their div sign a 'Tarantula', because Tarantulas are American, not African. The spider badge was for Ananse the Spider, who was a sort of Robin Hood character in West African myths and legends, who won his battles by stealth and guile. General Woolner, the first GOC 81 WA Div, chose Ananse the Spider as a suitable symbol for the division.
I was told that the spider badge correctly warn with the spider facing down the sleeve so that it was facing forward when the soldiers were crawling.
 
I may have something to contribute here.
5 uncles and 2 aunts on my fathers side all served in various campaigns/ Services.
One was a Lt. in the Wiltshire Regt. Got detached to RWAFF ( Gold Coast Regt. )
He was there training up a battalion to fight the Japanese.
He got infected with Black water Fever and when they shipped out for Burma , he died en route and is buried in a CWGC in Durban SA.
Got loads of photographs .... best I start doing something with them.
Photobucket someone said ?
 

Infury8r

Old-Salt
On Sunday 7th July 2013 at 21:20, BBC2: "Burma, My Father and the Forgotten Army" with Griff Rhys Jones.

"Apart from a few fragmentary stories, Griff Rhys Jones' father never talked about his war. Yet as a medical officer to a West African division he travelled 15000 miles from Wales, to Ghana and the jungles of Burma. He and his men were part of an army of a million raised in Africa and Asia to fight the Japanese. To understand their story Griff travels first to Ghana and then accompanied by 90-year-old veteran Joshua he goes to jungles of Burma. It is known as the forgotten war but Griff discovers how it transformed these West Africans from children of the empire into masters of their own destiny."

OK, that was a couple of days ago, but it can still be viewed on iPlayer

BBC iPlayer - Burma, My Father and the Forgotten Army
 
The African divsions in British service had an interesting war. The King's African Rifles (the E african equivalent to the RWAFF) fought against the Eyeties with the S Africans and Indians in E Africa. There was then a great concentration in India and Burma, the two W African divisions going to the Arakan and its W edge and the E African division to the W flank of Slim's move south over the Chindwin and Irrawady. As noted one brigade (of Nigerians) served with Wingate.

All three used their man-portered mobility to get around problems that defeated vehicles and mules, and in addition the E africans were used in areas infested with malaria and scrub typhus that they seemed better ablem to cope with. The porters were a strength and weakness as at first they weren't armed and bolted as soon as Japs turned up (and who can blame them?). There were changes to their training that helped with that not never completely removed the problem.

They seem to be the really forgotten aspect of a usually forgotten campaign. I once had a copy of a book by a journalist called Handley on the E African division but all-told, detail is hard to come by, this thread is all the more important for that.
 

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