British Colonial Auxiliary Forces

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1939 Army List, Dominion and Colonial Regiments index
1945 Army List, Order of Precedence of the British Army, with most colonial units omitted

This is a list of auxiliary regiments or units formed by the British in individual colonies of the British Empire. In some colonies, the units were led by officers seconded from the British Army. Especially in the case of units that recruited non-whites, even in colonies where the officers were primarily colonials, commissions were generally restricted to whites until after the Second World War. Non-white colonials, as well as non-whites from Britain itself (who were for a time assigned to British West Indian Regiments of the British Army as a matter of policy, even if enlisting in Britain) served primarily in the other ranks. Although militias operating on the same principle as the militia in England and Wales were established in many colonies during the 17th and 18th Centuries, from the 19th Century onwards colonial units were mostly voluntary, and supplied a reserve force either to be called up in war time to reinforce regular British Army garrisons for home defence, or in some cases were entirely responsible for home defence. Many units, however, took part in active campaigns outside of the role of home defence in various conflicts the British Empire was involved in, including the two world wars.

Some of the reserve colonial units, especially in the strategically-placed colonies (particularly Bermuda and Malta), were considered loosely part of the British Army, whereas others were considered auxiliaries (by example, the Bermuda Militia Artillery was grouped with the Royal Artillery and the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers with the Royal Engineers in the official Army Lists, which also listed the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and Bermuda Militia Infantry officers, whereas most colonial units did not appear at all).

Many colonial units started out as auxiliaries and later became regular units and forerunners to the current militaries of those colonies which have become politically independent.

While most of the units listed here were army units, colonial marines were raised at various times, as were colonial naval and air force reserve units.

Today, only four British Overseas Territories regiments remain (not including cadet corps): the Royal Bermuda Regiment; the Royal Gibraltar Regiment; the Falkland Islands Defence Force; and the Royal Montserrat Defence Force.

List of Colonial Auxiliary Forces[edit]








British Guiana[edit]

  • British Guiana Volunteer Force (BGVF)

British Honduras[edit]

  • The Prince Regent's Royal Militia (1817-1866)
  • The Belize Volunteer Force (1866-1868)
  • The Belize Volunteer Corps (1868-1883)
  • The Belize Light Infantry Volunteer Force (1897-1905)
  • British Honduras Volunteers (1905-1916)
  • British Honduras Territorial Force (1916-1928)
  • British Honduras Defense Force (1928-1944)
  • British Honduras Home Guard (1942-1943)
  • British Honduras Volunteer Guard (1943-1973)
  • Belize Volunteer Guard (1973-1977)


  • Burma Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve[1]




Falkland Islands[edit]



Gold Coast[edit]



Hong Kong[edit]


  • The Agra Volunteer Rifle Corps
  • The Allahabad Rifles
  • The Assam Bengal Railway Battalion
  • The Baluchistan Volunteer Rifle Corps
  • The Bangalore Contingent
  • The Bengal and North West Railway Battalion
  • The Bengal Nagpur Railway Battalion
  • The Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway Regiment
  • The Bombay Volunteer Rifles Corps
  • The Calcutta and Presidency Battalion
  • The Calcutta Presidency Battalion
  • The Cawnpore Rifles
  • The Chota Nagpur Regiment
  • The Coorg and Mysore Company
  • The Coorg and Mysore Rifles
  • The Dehra Dun Mounted Rifles
  • The East Coast Battalion
  • The East Indian Railway Regiment
  • The Eastern Bengal Company
  • The Eastern Bengal Railway Battalion
  • The Great Indian Peninsula Railway Regiment
  • The Hyderabad Rifles
  • The Kolar Goldfields Battalion
  • The Lucknow Volunteer Rifle Corps
  • The Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway Rifles
  • The Madras Guards
  • The Malabar Volunteer Rifles
  • The Malwah Bheel Corps
  • Meywa Bheel Corps
  • The Midlands Volunteer Rifle Corps
  • The Moulmein Volunteer Rifle Corps
  • The Mussourie Battalion
  • The Nagpur Rifles
  • The Naini Tal Volunteer Rifles
  • The Nilgiri Malabar Battalion
  • The Northern Bengal Mounted Rifles
  • The North West Railway Battalion
  • The Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway Battalion
  • The Poona Rifles
  • The Shillong Volunteer Rifles
  • The Simla Rifles
  • The South Andaman Volunteer Rifles Corps
  • The South Indian Railway Battalion
  • The Yercaud Volunteer Rifle Corps





Leeward Island[edit]


  • Malay States Volunteer Rifles (1915–1936)
  • Malayan Naval Volunteer Reserve



  • Mauritius Territorial Force
  • Mauritius Defence Force
  • Mauritius Regiment


New Zealand[edit]



Nyasaland and Northern Eastern Frontier Force referred to as NorForce was a European Unit that saw action in East Africa 1914 & 1916 in German East Africa (Tangankia) along with elements of the NPR & BSAP other militia units and what became the Northern Rhodesia Regiment. Operational records of Norforce can be found in the Northey Papers and War Office records online. These records are best covered in The Forgotten Front: The East African Campaign 1914-1918 By Ross Anderson. KAR 1 and KAR 2 the Kings African Rifles ( who became Malawi Rifles and Zambia Rifles) units with Askari and white officers became the main fighting units of NE Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

At the out break of WW1 Rhodesia was still a company concession, an 1889 Charter Company. While Southern Rhodesia with its large white population raised regular Regiments in the Rhodesia Rifles and latter the Rhodesia Native Rifles. North of the Zambezi it was different with less than 3000 settlers little central authority the regions had a quasi colonial force that was both police and military until 1923 when Northern Rhodesia became a crown colony. In 1911 the NE Rhodesia, NW Rhodesia and Barotseland became single entity and the police forces merged. The forces of North East Rhodesian Police (NRP), The British South Africa Police (North Western Rhodesia) called the BASP and the Barotse Native Police existed from 1896 to 1911, they were both police and a Military Units united in 1911 but with no East West communication. Before WW1 they spent the time fighting slavers in the NE and maintaining the security of the frontiers against German, Belgium & Portuguese encroachment and keeping order as the railways developed. Out the outbreak of WW1 and WW2 they divided into police and militia units serving in WW1 in Namibia & in the East Africa Campaign, as the campaign wore on & on they became like regular units, in 1917 the 5 NRP & 2 BASP companies (from S. Rhodesia) became Northern Rhodesia Police Service Battalion.

Other regular units that contributed to what became the regular fighting forces of Central Africa through WW1 and WW2 and the Malay Emergency are the Kings African Rifles, The Northern Rhodesia Regiment & the Rhodesia Native Regiment (RNR) and the Rhodesia Rifles (all European) who drew heavily on the traditions and personnel of The Rifles (UK) & The Central African Regiment 1896 -1903 which went on to become The 1st and 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalions in 1902.

St Christopher Nevis[edit]


St Lucia[edit]

St Vincent[edit]

S. Rhodesia[edit]



West Indies[edit]


References & External links[edit]