§ Mr. Piratin
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that following a protest strike at the slowness of demobilisation by African soldiers, a number were killed and wounded when they were shot at by troops in Gilgil, Kenya, on 3rd January; and whether he will make a statement on the matter.
§ Mr. Bellenger
On the morning of 2nd January, 1947, about 150 Askaris of the Base Ammunition Depot at Gilgil refused to parade or carry on with their normal work. The Commanding Officer tried to find out the men's grievances and to interview spokesmen, but the men were truculent and excited and as a result they refused to listen to him in spite of repeated attempts by him and the other officers. It is thought that discontentment arose over alleged delay in the release of African Service Group No. 36, which, however, was not due for release for about another two months.
Later in the clay various incidents and rioting occurred, and the loyal Askaris of the Base Ammunition Depot were molested and prevented from working, one being injured. In the evening a company of the 5th King's African Rifles from Nanyuki arrived at Gilgil and attempted to round up the rioteers and restore order. About 150 rioteers attacked a platoon of the 5th King's African Rifles with stones. Some of the Askaris of the King's African Rifles were knocked down and when the mob was within 20 yards the Askaris of the King's African Rifles open fire individually to prevent themselves being overwhelmed. This individual firing lasted for less than one minute and ceased immediately an officer gave the order to cease firing. The rioteers then fell in quietly and 14 ringleaders were placed in close arrest. As a result of this incident five Africans were killed and four seriously and seven slightly wounded.
The 24 Askaris of the King's African Rifles who opened fire individually are also in close arrest. All the remaining men concerned are now back at work. A court of inquiry was held from 3rd to 10th January, 1947, and its findings are being considered locally. The trial of the rioteers was expected to begin this week.