Chris Nation, posting in a Facebook Group – WWII & Military History claimed that soldiers in the Rhodesian African Rifles who assisted the allied forces (Great Britain, France (except during the German occupation, 1940–44), the Soviet Union (after its entry in June 1941), the United States (after its entry on December 8, 1941), and China) during World War II are resting in Burma.
One of the most forgotten details of World War II was the contribution of the native African populations of Britain’s African colonies. None more so than the Rhodesian African Rifles from Southern Rhodesia.
When war broke out in 1939, the government of Southern Rhodesia, a self-governing British colony responsible for its own defence, sought to recreate the Rhodesian Native Regiment that had been raised in the First World War. The result was that in 1940 the Rhodesian African Rifles were formed and began training at Borrowdale, Salisbury.
Contrary to some misconceptions, the Rhodesian African Rifles were an entire volunteer force, and black Rhodesians answered the call to fight against Hitler with enthusiasm.
Their highest impact to the effort in World War II was felt in Burma. So ferocious were the black Rhodesian soldiers that rumors spread amongst the Japanese in Burma that they were cannibals, entirely false rumors that were nonetheless encouraged by black Rhodesian troops because it had a great psychological impact on the Japanese aggressors.
The Rhodesian African Rifles remained in Burma for several months after the war had officially ended, guarding the Japanese prisoners they had taken as they liberated Burma.
During the 1953 visit of the Queen Mother to Southern Rhodesia, the contribution of the Rhodesian African Rifles was honored by the Queen presenting the regiment’s colors at a parade at their Borrowdale training camp.
Afterward, they continued their tradition of service during the Malayan Emergency and the Rhodesian Bush War with distinction.
After Zimbabwean independence in 1980, the Zimbabwean government began removing references to the Second World War, both in history books and by taking down many of the memorials and plaques that honored Southern Rhodesians’ contributions to the fight against Hitler.
To this day, the history of the Rhodesian African Rifles in World War II remains an increasingly forgotten piece of history.