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The King’s African Rifles - 11th (Kenya) Battalion Plaque, 1945
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The King’s African Rifles - 11th (Kenya) Battalion Plaque, 1945

Measurements: Height: 46cm (18in)



Painted wood made by Potter of Aldershot and bearing maker’s label to the reverse.

11KAR was formed in 1941 and first served on Line of Communication duties in British Somaliland. It was largely composed of Kamba and Nandi tribesmen. After jungle training in Ceylon in 1943, the Battalion moved to Burma in June 1944 and took part in the advance to secure the Tamu–Sitaung road in the face of sporadic opposition and under constant monsoon rain. Supply was largely by air. On 17 August 1944 11KAR indentified a strongly defended Japanese position on Habari Hill, and, supported by 59 Field Battery, captured the position in the 23rd Division's first set-piece attack. The hill was re-named Jambo Hill by the Divisional Commander.

The advance continued and on 24th August the Battalion occupied a hill position named Claret following a Japanese withdrawal. The Battalion now came into Brigade reserve and for the next few weeks were employed on road building and bringing forward artillery and supplies. The Battalion concentrated back at a camp in the Tamu area by 18th September for more training, although the monsoon rains were now falling in earnest. The first issue of Sten guns now arrived. On 9th October the Battalion began to move south down the Kabbaw Valley, under direct command of Divisional HQ as the remainder of 25th Brigade were re-fitting. On 17th October the Battalion took position behind 26th Brigade in the Yazagayo area and followed that Brigade's forward moves for the next two weeks. On 9th November the Battalion, now again under command of 25th Brigade, was ordered to capture some high ground near Natkyigon as part of the advance on Kalemyo. A Flight (ie: a platoon) of the RAF Regiment was now attached to the Battalion for experience and they helped in particular with the mule transport, allotted because of the terrain.

The Battalion padre, an American, Captain W.W. Devitt, was also considered an expert on mules following his exploits in rafting them across the Chindwin. The Kalemyo –Tiddim Road was cut on 13th November and the town was captured the following day, honours being shared between the Battalion and 4/7 Rajputs of 5th Indian Division. There were several sharp patrol engagements over the next few days until on 17th November 5th Indian Division took over the area. 25th Brigade and the Battalion were now directed to capture Kyigon and exploit north. The Battalion was in position by 19th November and on 21st they successfully attacked in company with a squadron of Stuart tanks from 7th Cavalry (Indian) with their escort company of Bombay Grenadiers.

The advance towards Kalewa continued until 25 November, the Battalion still in the lead supported by 7th Cavalry, until a determined block was encountered at what came to be known as Windy Corner. Numerous attempts to force or outflank the position failed and 26KAR came up to take over the road axis, leaving the Battalion to concentrate and attack along the ridges on the left flank. The Japanese withdrew on 28th. During this period the Battalion's padre won an MC for rescuing askari from 26KAR while under fire. The Battalion had been leading the Brigade for nearly three weeks and it was brought into reserve at the beginning of December. Their troubles were not over because there was an outbreak of tick typhus, an unpleasant disease that had claimed a number of casualties previously. D Company was the only Company to cross the Chindwin, when it occupied a hill position previously taken by 34KAR. One platoon of A Company did an interesting river patrol in DUKWs. The Battalion was visited by Generals Slim and Leese and by Admiral Mountbatten before being flown back by Dakota to Imphal on 20th and 21st December. They went thence by road to a rest area where they spent 23rd and 24th December building a camp. They spent a pleasant Christmas here, and the following three months, training and absorbing reinforcements. In April the Battalion moved to a barren camp at Chas in Bihar Province. Here they were put for the first time on a fully animal-transport basis before moving again, this time to Ranchi. The Japanses surrender came before the Battalion could return to the front and so further training was undertaken, along with sports and parades. The Battalion returned to East Africa and disbandment in 1946.