The predecessor regiments of the King’s African Rifles all contained fife and drum bands when they were amalgamated to form the KAR in January 1902. From the end of the First World War onwards the regular Battalions of the KAR’s peacetime establishment retained bands of various sizes for most of the time until Britain’s Central and East African colonies came to independence in the early 1960s. However, it is very difficult to follow these bands through the limited historic records that still exist.
The band of the 3rd (East African) Battalion KAR was probably the largest, longest-lived and best-known KAR band. In the inter-war years the 3-KAR band expanded to the size of a full military band with forty musicians.
In the Second World War many of the band members joined an entertainment unit that was formed to entertain troops in Burma with popular music.
The band of the 4th (Uganda) Battalion KAR was also well-known for wearing highland dress and is therefore particularly popular with modern model makers. The bands of the Central African and East African Rifles became the bands of the 1st and 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalions and the 3rd (East African) Battalion KAR.
The only band in my collection made as toy soldiers rather than models for modern collectors was made in Spain in the 1950s by Julio García Castresana, to represent the Regiment of Regulares of Melilla – the Spanish city enclave on the north coast of Morocco.