South African & Rhodesian Troops

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Panzer Leader
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South African & Rhodesian Troops

Post by Panzer Leader » 27 Feb 2006 18:53

I seem to have a hard time looking for info on South African & Rhodesian troops that served in this area of the war. Could somebody tell me about them?

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Kingfish
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Post by Kingfish » 27 Feb 2006 20:57

Can't help you with Rhodesian units, but this site has some valuable info on South Africa's contribution:

http://homepages.force9.net/rothwell/SouthAfrica.htm

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Post by Panzer Leader » 27 Feb 2006 21:24

Thanks

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Post by JonS » 27 Feb 2006 21:39

Look in the NZ and Australian OHs, both sets of which are available in full online. You might also try the Indian OHs, at least a few of which (eg "The Tiger Triumphs") are available online.

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Post by Jon G. » 27 Feb 2006 23:01

South Africa raised a total of three divisions for the war, 1st and 2nd SA divisions, and later the 6th SA Armoured Division which saw action in Italy from 1944 onwards. A 3rd SA Division was also raised, but this division was not deployed outside South Africa, although the 7th SA Brigade participated in the occupation of Madagascar in 1942. I'm not sure if this brigade was part of the 3rd SA Div.

Initial service was in East Africa, where the 1st SA div. acquitted itself well. It was then transferred to North Africa, where its 1st Brigade suffered serious losses in the Totensonntag battle for Sidi Rezegh airfield in November 1941. The 2nd SA Division formed major part of the Commonwealth forces which captured Bardia in Dec 1941 - Jan 1942, a nice account of which may be found here.

Later in 1942 the 2nd SA Div was destroyed when Rommel captured Tobruk. Apparently the division was not rebuilt. 1st SA Div also participated in the El Alamein battles. It was withdrawn to SA in early 1943, and 6th SA Armoured Div sent to Egypt in April 1943. The 6th was however not considered combat ready and spent a whole year training in Egypt before it was sent to Italy.

South African air units also participated in the campaign in Italy - fighters serving with the 3rd SAAF Wing which was part of the Tactical Air Force; some individual SAAF squadrons were part of the Desert Air Force (nomenclature remained long after the war had moved to Italy) and also some SA bomber squadrons were part of the 205 Bomber Command in Italy. It can be hard to tell the South African squadrons apart from the rest, since they were pretty seamlessly integrated into overall RAF structure in the theater.

I know rather less about the Rhodesian contribution to the war. I'm fairly certain that no division-sized units were raised, but definitely Rhodesian air units participated in the East African campaign, and the first RAF Bomber Command squadron to fly the Avro Lancaster operationally (the 44th) had Rhodesian crews.

Edited to include info on the 7th Bde.

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Post by Jon G. » 28 Feb 2006 10:27

Your inquiry set me googling about for Rhodesia's involvement in WW2:

Rhodesia seems to have had a strong tradition for aviation. Here's a write-up on the Rhodesian Air Training Group 1940-1945

...and here's a chapter from a book about the Rhodesian 237th Squadron, which participated in the East African campaign as I wrote above. Later the squadron transferred to North Africa.

I've refrained from linking to the parent site because it frankly looks suspect to me :)

Finally, here's a listing of Rhodesian and other Central African regiments.

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South Africans in WW2

Post by Klemen L. » 28 Feb 2006 14:24

...and here's a chapter from a book about the Rhodesian 237th Squadron, which participated in the East African campaign as I wrote above. Later the squadron transferred to North Africa.
Good link, Jon.

Speaking of South Africans, I was wondering, does anyone know if there have ever been written respectively published the regimental histories for the following three South African regiments in World War 2, which took part in Operation "Ironclad" (occupation of Madagascar 1942):

- 1st City Regiment
Perhaps Griffiths, Reginald: "First City: A Saga of Service". Cape Town: Howard Timmins, 1970?
- The Pretoria Regiment
- Pretoria Highlanders Regiment

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Post by Jon G. » 01 Mar 2006 11:05

Hi Klemen,

Here's a link to a site by a fellow who is in the middle of an ambitious project: he is compiling information on every South African regiment that ever existed and putting it on the web in an easily accessible format.

I could find no reference whatsoever to the 1st City Regiment, unless you mean the City of Grahamstown Volunteers, a formation that apparently was raised during the 2nd Boer War and disbanded thereafter. Information on many regiments is extremely rudimentary thus far, other more famous units such as the Royal Natal Carabineers and the Imperial Light Horse, get a much fuller description.

It's a slow loading site and it frequently returns error messages. Reload or accessing the site without the final / in the address line usually helps, though.

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Post by Klemen L. » 01 Mar 2006 13:24

Here's a link to a site by a fellow who is in the middle of an ambitious project: he is compiling information on every South African regiment that ever existed and putting it on the web in an easily accessible format.
Thank you for the link, Jon!
I could find no reference whatsoever to the 1st City Regiment, unless you mean the City of Grahamstown Volunteers, a formation that apparently was raised during the 2nd Boer War and disbanded thereafter. Information on many regiments is extremely rudimentary thus far, other more famous units such as the Royal Natal Carabineers and the Imperial Light Horse, get a much fuller description.
Here is a short lineage of this regiment that I was able to find:
1913.07.01 4th Infantry (First Eastern Rifles)
formed with HQ at Queenstown (Cape) in Active Citizen Force of Union Defence Force, by amalgamation of Queenstown Volunteers, and First City of Grahamstown Volunteers
1924 First City
unamalgamated from Queenstown Volunteers
1932? The First City
1946 reconstituted in part-time forces
1952 The First City Regiment
199u amalgamated with Regiment de la Rey, to form Regiment de la Rey First City Regiment

URL: http://www.regiments.org/regiments/sout ... 4first.htm

From what I can see and understand this was a Cape Town regiment.

It seems that Reginald Griffith's book is the definite regimental history of 1st City Regiment.

No books (histories) about Pretoria Highlanders and Pretoria Regiment as it seems.

Thanks again for the reply.

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Post by Sidi Rezegh » 05 Mar 2006 07:30

Here is a link to a .pdf file of a book called Lion With Tusk Guardant, which is a official history of the Rhodesian units in WWII. Excellent, and well worth saving to your hard drive as you never know how long things like this will be available on the web. Print copies of this book are quite rare and expensive.

http://www.rhodesia.nl/Lion%20Guardant.pdf

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Post by Klemen L. » 05 Mar 2006 15:45

Here is a link to a .pdf file of a book called Lion With Tusk Guardant, which is a official history of the Rhodesian units in WWII. Excellent, and well worth saving to your hard drive as you never know how long things like this will be available on the web. Print copies of this book are quite rare and expensive.
Wonderful book! Thanks Sidi Rezegh! I only regret there is almost nothing about Northern Rhodesia Regiment on Madagascar in 1942. As far as the rest is concerned ...

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