Witwatersrand Rifles Regiment

Veterans' Club - History Archive

WITWATERSRAND RIFLES REGIMENT - A BRIEF HISTORY

1899     -           The formation of the Railway Pioneer Regiment, forerunner of the Witwatersrand Rifles, on the 18th of December 1899.

 1903     -           Official disbandment of the Railway Pioneer Regiment and the formation of the Witwatersrand Rifles (on the 1st of May 1903). The third infantry regiment formed in the Transvaal, that is, after 1 Transvaal Scottish and the Transvaal Light Infantry. The latter regiment was later disbanded and absorbed into Witwatersrand Rifles.

1904     -           Formation of the Witwatersrand Rifles Military Band.

1909     -           The Witwatersrand Rifles Band Won the "S.A. Band Contest Volunteer Challenge Trophy".

1914-1915-        The Regiment served in the S.W.A. Campaign, during World War I, under General Louis Botha.

  • The Regiment received the "S.W. Africa 1914-1915" Battle Honour.

1930     -           Official alliance of Witwatersrand Rifles with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Through this alliance with the Cameronians, Witwatersrand Rifles affiliated to other Cameronian Regiments, namely:-

  • 26th Battalion (The Logan and Albert Regiment) of Australia.
  • The Otago Regiment of New Zealand.
  • The Otago and Southland Regiment of New Zealand.
  • 2nd Battalion , Ghana Regiment of Infantry.

----                   Today, Witwatersrand Rifles is the only active custodian of the Cameronian traditions, all other Regiments, including the Cameronians, have been disbanded.

1936     -           Authority was granted for Warrant Officers and NCO's to wear the Cameronian badges of rank.

1939     -           Witwatersrand Rifles served as a training unit for troops posted "up north'. Authority was granted for the unit to adopt all items of dress worn by the Cameronians, including the Douglas Tartan.

1943     -           Unit mobilised as part of the 6th Armoured Division for the Italian Campaign. Witwatersrand Rifles and 1 Regiment De La Rey were merged on 05 July 1943, to form the WR/DLR battalion, affectionately known as the "Royal Boere" whose watchword was "ODJ" (Op Die Job) [Loosely translated - "always on the job"].

1945     -           The WR/DLR were awarded 13 battle honours for services during World War II:-

  • Italy 1944-1945
  • Cassino II
  • Allerona
  • Florence
  • Monte Querciabella
  • Monte Fili
  • Gothic Line
  • Monte Stanco
  • Monte Salvaro
  • Monte Sole/Caprara
  • Po Valley
  • Camposanto Bridge
  • The Greve

1945     -           Unit sustained its heaviest losses at Monte Caprara (16 April 1945). (The Unit's annual Wits Week Ceremony falls on the weekend closest to 16 April).

1946     -           Formation of the Unit's Pipe Band. The founding of the Regimental Association.

1947     -           HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, accepted the honorary post of Colonel-in-Chief of the Unit. (This honorary post was discontinued when the Union of South Africa became a Republic in 1961. Although the Regiment maintained close and unofficial links with Her Majesty untill her passing in 2002).

1953     -           The Regiment celebrates its 50th anniversary on 1 May 1953 and receives the freedom of the city of Germiston on 11 September 1953.

1954     -           Unit receives the freedom of the city of Johannesburg (24 April 1954).

1961     -           Unit changed its motto and badge with the formation of the Republic of South Africa to "Pro Deo et Patria" - "For God and Country".

1963     -           The Regiment moved from its Headquarters at the Drill Hall in Johannesburg to occupy a new Headquarters next to the Rand Airport in Germiston.

1968     -           The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) are disbanded after almost 300 years of service to their country (14 May 1689 - 14 May 1968).

1976     -           The Regiment mobilized for the South West African Campaign, the first operational mobilization since World War II:

  • Regiment Officer Commanding: Cmdt. D.C. Fletcher
  • Regiment Second-in-command: Maj. R.I. King
  • Quartermaster: Capt. T.P.A. O'Halloran
  • RSM: WO1. J. Bruigom
  • A Company: Capt. J.L. Job (Commander), Capt. J. Josephson (2IC)
  • B Company: Maj. N. Termorshuizen (Commander), Capt. A.E. Dixon-Seager (2IC) 
  • C Company: Maj. C. Colley (Commander), Capt. N. Passmore (2IC)
  • Support Company: Maj. H. Groenendaal (Commander), Capt. T. Couchman (2IC)

1976-1986 -       Unit served in the S.W. African Campaign.

1981     -           Unit Converted from motorised infantry to mechanised infantry - using Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

1982-1993-        Unit Served in the Townships until 1988 - between border operations and continues to conduct conventional training at the Army Battle School, Lohatla.

1989     -           Unit published its official history: "A Bugle Calls" by Dr. S. Monick.

1993     -           90th Anniversary of the Witwatersrand Rifles & the 50th Anniversary of the WR/DLR.

1994     -           The Regiment is on standby for Operation Jambu (Elections 27 April 1994).

1995     -           Exercise Wit Blitz at Army Battle School, Lohatla. The Regiment forms an alliance with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) to re-establish and maintain it's Scottish links.

1996     -           The Regimental Pipe Band is invited to perform at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland.

1998     -           The Regiment conducts Exercises Booster I & Booster II at Walmansthal. The Regimental Shooting Team Wins the Gold Cup Trophy for Shooting.

1999     -           The Regiment deployes Alpha Company during Operation Acapantha, 27 May - 3 June 1999, for the country's second democratic elections. It is the Regiments’ first operational deployment since 1989, at the end of the Border War:

  • Company Commander: Maj. T.I. Milne
  • Company Second-in-command: Capt P. Rheeder
  • Quartermaster: Maj. L.M. van Niekerk
  • Operations Officer: 2Lt. F.C. Mulder
  • Platoon Commanders: Lt. G.W. Knott, CO (T/2Lt.) G.R. Howard & CO (T/2Lt.) I.D. Stins 
  • Company Sergeant Major: WO1. J.A. van Straaten

The Unit deploys on further operations in support of the SAPS. (Ops. Bolero, Ops. Castanet (Y2K) & Ops. Sombrero). The 100th Anniversary of the formation of the Railway Pioneer Regiment. The Regimental Shooting Team Wins the Gold Cup Trophy for Shooting.

2000     -           A contingent from the Unit travels to the UK for the celebration of the 100th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. (Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment). The Regiment begins training it's own recruits. The Regimental Shooting Team Wins the Gold Cup Trophy for Shooting.

2001     -           The Regiment participates in Exercise Ice Bear II at Army Battle School, Lohatla. The Regimental Shooting Team ends in Second place in the Gold Cup Trophy competition for Shooting.

2002     -           The Unit participates in Exercise Quo Vadis under the command of CMI and Exercise Ice Bear III at Army Battle School, Lohatla. The Regimental Shooting Team Wins the Gold Cup Trophy for Shooting. The Regiment receives the freedom of the city of Barberton on 27 November 2002. A contingent from the Unit travels to the UK for the funeral of HM the Queen Mother on the 9th of April 2002:

  • Maj. H.J. Kaasjager
  • WO1. N.M.S. Korff, JCD
  • Sgt. L.B. van Zyl
  • Rfn. R.D. van Dyk

2003     -           100th Anniversary of the formation of Witwatersrand Rifles & the 60th Anniversary of the WR/DLR.  The WITS WEEK CENTENARY PARADE - 2003: Operation Sole Caprara, 1 May 2003:

  • Parade Commander: Capt. I.D. Stins
  • Parade Sergeant Major: WO2. W. Partridge
  • Platoon Commanders: Lt. G.W. Knott & Lt. R. Kirsten
  • Platoon Sergeants: Sgt. H. Davids & Sgt. L.B. van Zyl
  • Aides de Campe: Capt. D.M. Feinstein & Capt. J.A. Rudolph

2003     -           The Unit deployed on Operation Blue Centinal. The Regimental Shooting Team Wins the Gold Cup Trophy for Shooting.

2004     -           The Regiment completed its move from its old Headquarters next to Rand Airport on 7 May and officially opens it’s new Headquarters “Fort Bear” in Germiston on 14 May. Witwatersrand Rifles conduct Infantry Basic and Corps Training with Regiment Oos Rand. The first members of the Regiment deploy on Peace Keeping Operations in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Operation Mistral). The Regimental Shooting Team ends in second place in the Gold Cup Trophy competition for Shooting.

2005     -           Witwatersrand Rifles together with Regiment Oos Rand conduct Exercise Gemini at Walmansthal to complete Basics and Corps training. The Regimental Shooting Team ends in second place in the Gold Cup Trophy competition for Shooting.

2006     -           30th Anniversary of the Witwatersrand Rifles’ mobilisation for the South West African Campaign. The Regiment conducts its first ATR to ACR conversion course, for Ex-Commando members converting to the Army Conventional Reserve. The Regimental Shooting Team ends in second place in the Gold Cup Trophy competition for Shooting. The Regiment participates in Mechanised exercises at the Combat Training Centre in Lohatla (Ex. Hanglip I – VI)

2007     -           The Regiment participates in Operation Bata, during the public service strike. The Regimental Shooting Team ends in second place in the Gold Cup Trophy competition for Shooting. The Regiment wins the Venning & Denny Shooting Trophies.

2008     -           Operation Cordite: Alpha Company deploys to Sudan as part of UNMIS, UN Peacekeeping Mission.

2009     -           The continuation of Operation Cordite: Alpha Company returns from Sudan. The Regiment prepares for Operation Corona, the return of border patrols to the SA Army. The Regimental Association launches its website on 20 August 2009.

2010     -           The Regiment wins the Schumacher Cup for the unit with the best musketry skill in the SA National Defence Force and finished fourth in the Gold Cup Trophy Shooting Competition. The Regiment completes preparation for border deployment and deploys Alpha Company to the Mozambique border along with the Transvaal Scottish Regiment.

2011     -           Alpha Company, of the Regiment, completes its border deployment along the Mozambique border with success. The Regimental Shooting Team ends in third place in the Gold Cup Trophy competition for Shooting.

2013     -           The Regiment celebrates the 110th Birthday of the Regiment and the 70th Anniversary of the formation of WR/DLR. The Regimental Shooting Team wins the Gold Cup Trophy Shooting Competition and ends in second place in the White Horse Trophy Shooting Competition. A reinforced company from the Regiment deploys to the Lesotho border as part of the SANDF's border protection duties.

2014     -           A reinforced company of the Regiment returns from border protection duties along the Lesotho border.

2015     -           The Regiment deploys a company on peacekeeping duty in Sudan. The Regimental shooting team are runners up in the Gold Cup Trophy Shooting Competition.

2016     -           The WR Company deployed to Sudan returns after a successful deployment. For the first time in its history, the Regiment is requested to submit a design for Regimental Colours. 

2017     -           The Regiment is preparing to move its Regimental HQ during 2018. The Regiment is informed that it's name will be changed in the near future to Bambatha Rifles, for most veterans this effectively means disbandment of the Regiment.  For now the Regiment marches on...

COMMANDING OFFICERS - WITWATERSRAND RIFLES

RAILWAY PIONEER REGIMENT

  • Lt Col. J.E. Capper, RE (1899-1903) (Later Maj Gen. J.E. Capper, KCB, KCVO)

WITWATERSRAND RIFLES

  • Lt Col. J.G. Hamilton, MVO (1903 - 1905) (Later Hon. Col.)
  • Lt Col. T.J. Macfarlane, CMG (1906 - 1908)
  • Lt Col. R.W. Schumacher - Ffennell (1908 - 1909) (Later Hon. Col.)
  • Lt Col. C.B. Saner (1909 - 1912)
  • Lt Col. J.W. Smyth, VD (1912 - 1919)
  • Lt Col. S.B. Schlam (1919 - 1923)
  • Lt Col. R. Dukoff - Gordon, VD (1923 - 1928)
  • Lt Col. W.C.M. Howarth, VD (1928 - 1931)
  • Lt Col. W. Crewe - Brown, VD (1931 - 1936) & (29.4.1942 - 9.8.1942)
  • Lt Col. L.F. Sprenger, DSO, MC, VD (1936 - 1939)
  • Lt Col. W. James, ED (1939 - 1942) & (10.2.1943 - 5.7.1943)
  • Lt Col. H.C. Sumner, MC, MM, VD (9.8.1942 - 20.2.1943)
  • Lt Col. W.A.D. Cherrington, VD (2nd Bn) (1940 - 1941) (Later Col. W.A.D. Cherrington, VD)
  • Lt Col. J.B. Bester, DSO & Bar (1943 - 1945) (Later Brig. J.B. Bester, DSO & Bar and Hon Col)
  • Lt Col. W.R. Van Der Riet, MC (1945 - 1946) (Later Lt Gen. W.R. Van Der Riet, SSA, SM, MC & Hon Col.)
  • Lt Col. G.M. St.L. Daines, ED (1946 - 1951)
  • Cmdt. C.J.R. Nicholls, ED (1951 - 1956)
  • Cmdt. E.C. Harris, ED (1956 - 1962)
  • Cmdt. C.L. Pitt, JCD (1962 - 1965)
  • Cmdt. R.C. Gradige (1965 - 1968)
  • Cmdt. C.J. Derby - Lewis (1968 - 1973) (Acting OC: 1967 - 1968)
  • Cmdt. D.C. Fletcher, SM, JCD (1973 - 1981)
  • Cmdt. (Dr.) J.L. Job, SM, MMM, JCD (1981 - 1986) (Later Hon. Col.)
  • Cmdt. A.E. Dixon - Seager, MMM, JCD (1986 - 1989)
  • Lt Col. K.J. Townsend, SM, MMM, JCD (1989 - 1997)
  • Lt Col. E.L. Carton - Barber, JCD (1997 - 2002) (Later Col. E.L. Carton - Barber, JCD)
  • Lt Col. C.E. Casey, JCD (2002 - 2005)
  • Lt Col. M.F. Robberts (2005 - 2007)
  • Maj. I.D. Stins (Acting OC: 2006 - 2007)
  • Lt Col. J.C.L. Valentina, MMM (2007 - 2013)
  • Lt Col. L.H. Malakoane (2013 - 2014)
  • Lt Col. S.G. Mooketsi (2014 - 2015)
  • Maj. A.M. Mosehlana (2015 - 2016)
  • Capt. T. Tsotetsi (Acting OC: 2016)
  • Lt Col. G. Mazibuko (2016 - Present)

COLONEL-IN-CHIEF (This Honorary post was officially discontinued in 1961 when the Union of South Africa became a Republic.)

  • HM Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) (1947 - 1961) (unofficially 1947 - 2002)

HONORARY COLONELS

  • Col. Sir, L. Phillips - Bart, VD, (MLA)  (1908 - 1937)
  • Col. R.W. Schumacher - Ffennel (1909 - 1923)
  • Col. J.G. Hamilton, MVO (1910)
  • Col. The Hon. C.F. Stallard, DSO, MC & Bar, ED, QC (MP) (1937 - 1971) 
  • Brig. J.B. Bester, DSO & Bar (1972 - 1985)
  • Lt Gen. W.R. Van Der Riet, SSA, SM, MC (1985 - 1988)
  • Maj Gen. W.N.A. Barends, SM, MC & Bar (1989 - 2002)
  • Col. (Hon.) (Dr.) J.L. Job, SM, MMM, JCD (2002 - present)

SECONDS-IN-COMMAND

RAILWAY PIONEER REGIMENT

  • Maj. L.I. Seymore (1899 - 1900)  (Killed In Action)
  • Maj. E.D. Swinton  (1900 - 1903) (Later Maj Gen. Lord E.D. Swinton, CB, KBE, DSO)

WITWATERSRAND RIFLES

  • Maj. D. Christopherson (1903 - 1906)
  • Maj. C.B. Saner (1906 - 1909)
  • Maj. J.W. Smyth, VD (1909 - 1912)
  • Maj. S.B. Schlam (1912 - 1919)
  • Maj. R. Dukoff - Gordon (1919 - 1923)
  • Maj. W.C.M. Howarth (1923 - 1925)
  • Maj. F.E. Jackson, MC (1925 - 1927)
  • Maj. W.C.M. Howarth (1927 - 1928)
  • Maj. W. Crewe-Brown (1928 - 1931)
  • Maj. A.R. Leal (1931 - 1932)
  • Maj. L.F. Sprenger, DSO, MC, VD (1932 - 1936)
  • Maj. W. James, ED (1936 - 1939)
  • Maj. J.N. Saunders (1939 - 1940)
  • Maj. G.M. St.L. Daines, ED (1940 - 1943)
  • Maj. J.J.C. Hamman (1943 - 1944)
  • Maj. W.N.A. Barends, MC & Bar (1944 - 1945)
  • Maj. W.R. Van Der Riet, MC (1945)
  • Maj. G.H. Keating (1945 - 1947)
  • Maj. C.J.R. Nicholls, ED (1947 -1951)
  • Maj. E.C. Harris, ED (1951 - 1956)
  • Maj. C.L. Pitt, JCD (1956 - 1962)
  • Maj. R.C. Gradige (1962 - 1965)
  • Capt. W.G. Webber (1965 - 1968)
  • Maj. R.I. King (1968 - 1977)
  • Maj. J.L. Job, JCD (1977 - 1979)
  • Capt. C.M. Symons (1979 - 1980)
  • Maj. A.E. Dixon-Seager (1980 - 1981)
  • Maj. H.R. Groenendaal (1981 - 1984)
  • Maj. J.G. Bester, JCD (1984 - 1985)
  • Maj. A.E. Dixon-Seager, JCD (1985 - 1986)
  • Maj. J.D. Malakou (1986 - 1989)
  • Maj. C.P. Howard (1989 - 1996)
  • Maj. E.L. Carton-Barber (1996 - 1997)
  • Maj. C.E. Casey, JCD (1997 - 2002)
  • Maj. H.J. Kaasjager (2002 - 2003)
  • Maj. M.F. Robberts (2003 - 2005)
  • Maj. I.D. Stins, RD (2005 - 2011)
  • Maj. J.A. van Straaten, JCD (2011)
  • Maj. S.G. Mooketsi (2011 - 2014)
  • Maj. A.M. Mosehlana (2014 - 2015)
  • Capt. T. Tsotetsi (2015 - present)

REGIMENTAL SERGEANTS-MAJOR

RAILWAY PIONEER REGIMENT

  • WO1. E. Reed (1899 - 1903)

WITWATERSRAND RIFLES

  • Unknown (1903 - 1910)
  • WO1. G. Eliot (1910 - 1914)
  • WO1. G.H. Forsyth (Later Capt.) (1914 - 1915)
  • WO1. W.K. Lawson (1915 - 1916)
  • WO1. W.R. Watson, DCM (1916 - 1917)
  • WO1. D. Smith (1917 - 1918)
  • Unknown (1918 - 1932)
  • WO1. J. Suttie (1932 - 1940)
  • WO1. E. Owen (1941 - 1943) 
  • WO1. W. Watson (2nd Bn) (1940 - 1941) (2nd Bn)
  • WO1. C.H.C. Wheeler (1943 - 1944)  (Killed In Action)
  • WO1. C.W.B. Walsh (1944 - 1946)
  • WO1. R.W. Thorpe, JCD (1946 - 1961)
  • WO1. A.J. Norton (1961 - 1963)
  • WO1. R.W. Thorpe, JCD (1963 - 1968)
  • WO1. D. Morton (1968 - 1971)
  • WO1. J.M. Bruigom, PMM, JCD (1971 - 1981)
  • WO1. M. Bonette, JCD (1981 - 1988)
  • WO1. A.E. van den Berg, JCD (1988 - 1992) (Later Brigade Sergeant Major)
  • WO1. D.J. Vosloo, JCD (1992 - 1997)
  • SWO. D. Williams, JCD (1997 - 2006) (Later MWO)
  • SWO. M.M. Motlohi (2006 - present)

Regrettably some records from the 1910's & the 1930's were lost over the years. As a result the records regarding our Regimental Sergeants Major are incomplete. We would be most gratefull to anyone who is able to assist in updating these records. Please contact our webmaster if you are able to assist. Visit our home page for contact information.

  † - Died while on active duty

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