On 28th July 1914, World War One broke out, a war that would last four years, envelop 70 present day nations, and cost 10 million soldiers their lives. The colonies of the nations at the heart of the war were enlisted to fight for their colonial masters. Uganda was no exception. As part of British East Africa, her soldiers fought the soldiers of German East Africa in modern day Kenya and Tanzania.
The colonial regiment in the Protectorate of Uganda was formed in 1895, when the British authorities organised soldiers – both Ugandan and Sudanese recruited from the remnants of Emin Pasha’s forces – into regiments under the Uganda Rifles. In 1902, the were amalgamated into the King’s African Rifles, the army of British East Africa, which incorporated 6 battalions. The Uganda Rifles became the 4th Battalion. Their duty was to maintain security within British East Africa. The local soldiers were known as askari, from the Swahili word for guard. They were rank and file soldiers, their officers were Europeans. By 1914, the King’s African Rifles consisted of 2,319 African soldiers. By 1918, they numbered more than 30,000.
There are four world war cemeteries in Uganda: Kampala, Entebbe, Tororo and Entebbe. They are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, based in England, who pay for their upkeep. 377 men of the colonial regiments from both World War One and World War Two are buried at the four sites, with a further 127 commemorated. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission also maintains the graves of six other soldiers not buried in the war cemeteries. On Remembrance Sunday each year, the British High Commissioner, and other representatives from Commonwealth Countries visit the war cemeteries to pay tributes to the war dead.