Kenya and the Outbreak of the Second World War

Kenya and the Outbreak of the Second World War

Kenya and the Outbreak of the Second World War How did Kenya settlers hear about the outbreak of the Second World War and how did they react? The radio of course alerted settlers to the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939, and able-bodied men rushed to join up, while the women prepared to take over the running of the farms. Most young European settlers had belonged to the Kenya Defence Force, and had been summoned twice yearly for a fortnight’s training. The Kenya Regiment had also begun in 1937, with the purpose of training officers and NCOs for the King’s African Rifles. Now men were sent immediate telegrams ordering them to report to camp. The women bought up supplies of batteries, medicines, and spares for farm implements and machinery. The government requisitioned lorries and petrol was rationed – people were allocated ration cards. A list of maximum prices was published, to prevent profiteering, and there were warnings about trading with the enemy. The total available European manpower in Kenya was 8,998. Of these, 3,039 began serving in the forces, and, of the remainder, 3,041 were in essential occupations, 1,092 were discharged from the forces as unfit, and the rest were exempted because of age or other reasons (Brooke-Popham Papers, Bodleian Library, File 10). Czechs and Germans were rounded up in Nairobi, though this was done in a pleasant manner. They were put into the Vermont Memorial Hall and the hall of St Andrew’s Church of Scotland, on camp beds. It was good-humoured, though Nazis and Jews were put on separate tables. There were 700 Germans in Kenya –...