VE day so the narrative goes was a great day for freedom and a triumph over evil. However for some who fought for that freedom beside the British it did not come immediately and the evil did not go away.
Take Kenya! There soldiers who had fought with the British in Ethiopia and East Africa the Western Desert and Italy returned home to a land that was not free and where land had been stolen by colonists and poverty for the indigenous people was endemic.
Eventually some of them joined another liberation Army (the Kenya Land and Freedom Army) and within a few years of World War 2 ending British Regiments and the RAF were in action again often against people who had fought with them in WW 2.
It was a brutal war and the reprisals were severe. The British hanged so many people (over a thousand) that they had to employ a ‘travelling gallows’ taken round to camps to intimidate those still imprisoned.
So May 1945 was a great time for freedom and promised so much and yet some who fought to see that ‘freedom’ ended up swinging on a rope on a British colonial gallows!
Over 1000 Kikuyu were hanged and many more subjected to extra-judicial killings and women raped. Yet only a few years earlier in WW 2 Spitfires flew with ‘Kikuyu’ inscribed on them paid for by donations from poor tribesmen. Think of that when you see the RAF Flypast today!
Image: Travelling gallows at a British concentration camp for members of the Kikuyu suspected of being KLFA. The gallows drop was ‘shielded’. ‘Sensitivity with cruelty’ it’s the ‘British way’.
Image: Traveling gallows set up in the centre of a camp for KLFA suspects in Kenya 1950s – sensitively the drop was screened off so those made to watch could not see the agony of their dying comrades.
Assistant General Secretary
Celtic League (8th May 2020)