The Empire’s Smallest Regiment tells the little-known story of the Gambia Company of the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF). The Gambia Company initially formed in 1902 from a nucleus of Sierra Leoneans. British imperial policies and mindsets initially limited the Gambia Company’s development into an efficient and independent military organization, but it would soon transition into an all-Gambian force and secure its institutional independence within the greater RWAFF.
Despite its smallness and structural shortcomings, the Gambia Company served as an effective military unit in the African campaigns of the First World War and the Burma Campaign of the Second World War. Eventually, the company-sized Gambia Regiment disbanded in 1958 after over 50 years of service for the Gambia and the greater British Empire.
This book aims to fill a historiographical void by providing a valuable history of the Gambia Company and shed light on the experiences of ordinary Gambian soldiers, while also exposing the greater historical trends of the British colonial military in West Africa.