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An excerpt from "The Once Powerful Talai Clan A Trail of Tears" book on a WW II incident in North Africa ( Eritrea).

On 26th April.2012 – I interviewed Kiprono arap Bomsut from Longisa a 2nd World War Veteran: DB-1922, joined KAR-14.7.1940, date discharged 20.7.1943 (medical grounds), KAR No.- 3KAR-5052, Private, Company- T Company ,Section- platoon 7, I/D-0871325, District- Bomet, Home Town- Longisa, Location- Cheboin, S/location- Samituk, Village- Siwot.

In 1942, he fought with British soldiers in Eritrea (Gonda), where he was shot on the right leg by the enemy (Italians) while he tried to assist his two colleagues who had been shot. The two soldiers died of the injuries. He was treated in the bush later taken to Gonda. In 1942 they defeated the enemy with the help of the Talai soldiers. General Smath (could be Smith) asked them (the soldiers) to board a ship at Asmara to travel to Burma, they refused saying that they wanted to go on leave first. Their commandant insisted that they go to Burma.
The African soldiers held captive all the white soldiers & the white officers and forced them to travel on foot all the way to Kenya. Only doctors, cooks, master for food and the sick were allowed to board a vehicle for the Coln. After some days, they were persuaded to accept to travel by vehicles. Reaching Kenya they were charged for disobedience, however, because they were good fighters and that their leave reason was a genuine case, the disobedience case was dropped, though punished lightly . Those who were to go on leave went, after that some of them went to Burma. However, for Private Bomsut, as he was injured, he was treated further. When he was o.k, he worked at the Milimani /Langata camps, as a standby soldier (messenger), while some of his colleagues went to Burma and Moshi in Tanganyika.
In July 1943, his officer Major Covet, while he checked the soldiers’ files found that Private Bomsut’s file showed that Bomsut was dead, he was surprised. After he interrogated Bomsut further he came to know how the confusion came. Bomsut took the opportunity to be discharged, the officer accepted Bomsut’s request to be discharged on medical grounds. Bomsut was then discharged on 20.7.1943 and was informed that he will be paid pension every month until he died. He was paid the pension until Kenya got independence, 1963, since then he had never been paid except one month in 1970, when he had gone to his DO’s (District Officer) office at Bomet on a different matter. He saw a voucher on his name for that month’s pension/ allowance. He took it without the clerk’s knowledge and showed the then area Mp Hon. Isaac Salaat who together went to the DC’s office Kericho where he was paid the pension/allowance for that month. Since then, he has never been paid.
The elder is old and is ailing, he requested me to forward his plight to the British authorities who may help him, etc. I requested Prof. David M. Anderson of Oxford University, Laura A.Young of of ProRights, U.S and the British Embassy to assist him to forward his case to the 2nd World War Veterans Foundation (U.K) for further assistance & or advice, etc. The letter to the British Embassy was dated; 2 May, 2012 (The letter to the British High Commissioner, Defense Section, Ref: “Kipsigis Talai 2nd World War Veterans Assistance, dated 2 May 2012). I never received any reply from the British High Commissioner’s Office.
However, Mzee Bomsut succumbed to death In March 2014, at Longisa District Hospital, a very poor man.
Note a story in the the Talai book; -“…….The Laibon Soldiers were liked very much by their fellow African Soldiers and the British Soldiers who fought together. The Talai men participating in the Second World War had made it been known that the success that had been achieved by the British Forces in North Africa against the Italian Forces had been made possible by their presence. They claimed that their ‘super-natural’ powers had enabled the British soldiers in the battle to win. In a letter written by an Acting Nyanza Provincial Commissioner dated 24th of July 1943, the P.C was quoted as saying; “It is alleged that Laibon in the forces have written letters to Kipsigis asking them to note how their power has succeeded in driving the enemy (Italians) from North Africa”. Ndoigo Tililei (a Talai) – Forces No.25211, 355, Composite Platoon 31(EA), wrote one of the letters” (.(KNA:PC/NZA,2/7/66:10).
The story is captured in " The Once Powerful Talai Clan A Trail of Tears" book in detail.

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