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African Veterans Forgotten during VE Celebrations

In a crowded Zambian slum on VE Day, a family gathered to bury one of the last veterans of Britain’s colonial army. Jaston Khosa of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment was laid to rest on the day the world commemorated the end of the war in which he fought. The 95-year-old great-grandfather was among 600,000 Africans who fought for the British during the Second World War, on battlefields across their own continent as well as in Asia and the Middle East. Although their service has largely been forgotten, the mobilisation of this huge army from Britain’s colonies triggered the largest single movement of African men overseas since the slave trade. From his home in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, Khosa enlisted and was sent to Somaliland in East Africa to rout Italian forces, which had formed the Axis alliance with Nazi Germany and Japan. But more than seven decades after from his wartime service, Khosa died in poverty, in a dilapidated house in a squalid shantytown. In late 2018, Khosa was invited to meet Prince Harry at a veterans’ event in Lusaka and spoke with the royal about his years fighting for Britain as well as his plight of destitution. At the time, he said he hoped that his meeting with the prince would raise awareness of the plight of Africa’s war veterans.