Photograph of African forces on parade (CO 1069/41)

This is a brief guide to help you with research into personnel in African armed forces. The records are comprehensive and varied, though sometimes complicated. Whilst some records are available at The National Archives, most material is currently held by the relevant national archive of the country in question. This guide will help you to find out if the information you are looking for exists and, if it does, where to find it.

  • What do I need to know before I start?

    • Try to find out:

      • the name and rank of the person
      • where they served
      • a date range to help focus the search
  • What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

    • Records held abroad

      Many service and operational records for African forces are held by the national archive of the relevant nation. For further information, please refer to Veterans UK.

  • What other resources will help me find information?

    • Websites

      Find the service number of a man in the Imperial Yeomanry, Lovats Scouts and Scottish Horse in the Boer War, 1899-1902 on the BritishMedals website.

    • Books

      Some or all of the recommended publications below may be available to buy from The National Archives' Bookshop. Alternatively, search The National Archives' Library to see what is available to consult at Kew.

      Consult South African Field Force Casualty List, 1899-1902 (London, 1972).

      Read Army Records by William Spencer (The National Archives, 2008).

Did you know?

When former British colonies gained independence from the United Kingdom, their governments assumed full responsibility for all records relating to their armed forces, with a few exceptions.

The Imperial Yeomanry was raised in  the UK in 1899 specifically for the Second Boer War.

The King's African Rifles was formed from various East African forces in 1902 and was based in Kenya.

The Royal West African Frontier Force was formed from various West African forces in 1900.

The Royal African Corps was formed in 1800 under Colonel John Fraser.