Cap Badges of the KAR

Cap badge of 1st (Nyasaland) Bn. with King’s Crown

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.

Cap badge of 2nd (Nyasaland) Bn. with Queen’s Crown

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.

Arabic Numeral Badge of 4th Battalion with King’s Crown

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.

Arabic Numeral Badge of 3rd Bn.


Toy Soldiers by Andrew Rose

Despite being published in 1985 and long since out of print, Andrew Rose’s book “The collector’s all-colour guide to Toy Soldiers” is undoubtedly one of the best references for the amateur collector of old toy soldiers.

Toy Soldiers by Andrew Rose

The book contains 127 pages with hundreds of colour pictures of toy soldiers from all the main manufacturers with a short but informative text for each picture.

Inevitably, the book is dominated by Britains figures – as Britains were by far the biggest and most diverse producer of hollowcast lead toy soldiers – and it is weakest on American dimestore figures, which are a huge field for collectors in their own right.

Serious collectors will probably prefer more detailed reference books or, more likely, a library of books for different types and manufacturers, but if you are a casual collector like myself and want a single, easy-to-read manual, this book is an absolute must.

Secondhand copies are available from Amazon for as little as £1 – which seriously under-values this excellent book.