War  |  Memory  |  Gratitude

The East African contribution to Victory in Burma

The East African contribution to Victory in Burma


The Kohima Educational Trust is delighted to present this webinar and to welcome back author and historian Harry Fecitt MBE, TD who, in conversation with Dr Robert Lyman, talks to us about the operational activities of the East African troops in Burma during World War II with a focus on the 11th East African Division and the two independent East African Brigades.

Over 90,000 soldiers from both East and West Africa fought in Burma and proved to be some of the best jungle fighters among the Allies. During heavy monsoon rain in very rough country African soldiers were able to advance and fight well against the Japanese. They undertook pioneer tasks such as "corduroying" deep muddy tracks with felled timber, which allowed the smaller wheeled Divisional vehicles to also advance during the monsoon. We will hear more detail about the skills of the East African Askari and the tasks that they performed in a far away land where most of the press coverage focussed on the British and Indian troops.

The recording of the talk is now available to view below:

ORDER HERE: Harry's 2-volume work on the King's African Rifles and East African Forces in both World Wars


Our speakers:


Dr Robert Lyman - Military Historian, Author and Trustee of KET  Born in New Zealand in January 1963 and educated in Australia, Robert Lyman was, for twenty years, an officer in the British Army. Educated at Scotch College, Melbourne he was commissioned into the Light Infantry from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in April 1982. In addition to a business career he is an author and military historian, publishing books in particular on the war in the Far East. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Robert is married to Hannah, has two sons, and lives in Berkshire. For information about Robert's publications please visit his website: robertlyman.com


Harry Fecitt MBE, TD is a former British Army infantry officer. In his retirement he has taken a keen interest in the less-well-known incidents in British military history, researching and writing for several military journals. His aim is to emphasize the forgotten contributions and sacrifices made by the soldiers of former British Imperial territories who volunteered to serve the British Crown. He is the co-athor (with Charles Chasie) of The Road to Kohima: The Naga experience in the Second World War, a fascinating account of the war recounted, for the first time, from the perspective of the Naga people. Copies are available on the KET website. He is also the author of Sideshows of the Indian Army in World War 1 and Distant Battlefields: The Indian Army in the Second World War.  Harry has recently compiled a two-volume commemorative book on the operational activity of the King's African Rifles & East African Forces during both world wars.  The second volume covers activities in Burma during World War II.  Details can be seen here: https://www.kingsafricanriflesassociation.co.uk/book-application/ 

An internet article of Harry's featuring a battalion during the Burma campaign is available to be seen here: 



Sylvia May - CEO of The Kohima Educational Trust Sylvia May was born in New Jersey, USA in 1957. Her parents moved to England in 1963. Educated at High Wycombe School for Girls, she decided to pursue a career in the world of books. Sylvia worked for HarperCollins for 37 years, the last eleven of which she headed up their UK-based International Sales team. Sylvia May is the daughter of the late Gordon Graham, Founder and President of the Kohima Educational Trust. She is proud that her father has inspired many people to share his vision to commemorate those who fought and died in Kohima, and the wonderful Naga people who have done so much for the British in the past. She first visited India in 1994 with her husband Robert, and has returned on numerous occasions, staying in Kohima several times. In 2000, they followed the WWII route of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, her father’s regiment. The regiment’s first main engagement in this theatre of war was at Zubza shortly before the Battle of Kohima.

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