The KAR wore the ‘bugle horn and string’ cap badge derived from the signalling horns of German light infantry skirmishers of the Eighteenth Century and worn by Light Companies and Rifle regiments of the British Army since the Napoleonic wars.
Initially when the KAR were formed in 1902 the cap badge carried the number of each battalion in European numerals between the strings of the horn.
However, by the First World War some battalions had either replaced or supplemented the European numbers with Arabic numerals, possibly reflecting an increase in the number of Muslim askari.
The 1st and 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalions always wore European numbered cap badges and never adopted Arabic numerals.
Earlier badges have the King’s Crown above the strings of the horn, while badges from the last decade of the regiment, after the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 bear the Queen’s Crown.
The other four battalions of the regular peacetime establishment of the KAR wore their European number or the Arabic equivalent, with or without a surmounting Crown.
When further battalions were raised at times of war or civil unrest, this was often done by using a company from one battalion as a cadre for forming the new battalion. The new battalion was then numbered after it’s parent battalion.
So a new battalion raised from a company cadre of the 3rd (East African) Battalion would become 2/3rd (East African) Battalion and therefore wore the Arabic 3 or ‘Thalata’ of its parent. During the Second World War the numbering of offspring battalions was simplified so 2/3rd Battalion became 23rd Battalion.