Royal West African Frontier Force

Royal West African Frontier Force

Royal West African Frontier Force

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The West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) was a multi-battalion field force, formed by the British Colonial Office in 1900 to garrison the West African colonies of Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia. The decision to raise this force was taken in 1897 because of concern at French colonial expansion in territories bordering on Northern Nigeria. The first troops were from that area and thought of by the British as "Hausas" and to the end of colonial rule the Hausa language was a lingua franca in a very multi-tribal force, especially in Nigeria.


The task of raising the new locally recruited force was entrusted to Colonel F.D. Lugard who arrived in Nigeria in 1898. The following year an interdepartmental committee recommended the amalgamation of all existing British colonial military forces in West Africa under the designation of the West African Field Force.

On formation in 1900, the RWAFF comprised:

By 1908 the RWAFF in Northern Nigeria comprised two battalions of infantry, two batteries of artillery and one company of engineers. The infantry battalions at that time had an establishment of 1,200 men, the artillery 175 and the engineers 46. There were 217 British officers, non-commissioned officers and specialists. Mounted infantry detachments were...
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