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South African Forces

Pretoria Regiment

Nulli Secundus - Second to None

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Pretoria Regiment - (7 members)

The Pretoria Regiment was formed as an infantry battalion on 1 Jul 1913, and converted to armour during World War 2. In the 1960's tank crews were converted to Centurions and Ferrets, eventually to Eland 60 and Eland 90 armoured cars and finally the new Olifant MBT. In December 1987 the Pretoria Regiment sent a squadron of tanks into the battle of Cuito Cuanavale during which they destroyed eight Angolan tanks. The regiment formed part of 81 Armoured Brigade from 1975 until 1991

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Nulli Secundus - Second to None


RE: Pretoria Regiment

Established in 1913 and known as the 12th Infantry, Active Citizen Force, until 1928, when its full title became the Princess Alice’s Own Pretoria Regiment. It was formed from the Northern Mounted Rifles, the Pretoria Company of the Transvaal Scottish and the Pretoria detachment of the Transvaal Cycle and Motor Corps. Mobilised in 1914, the unit served with the Northern Force in German South West Africa. The regiment mobilised two battalions for World War Two and served with 7 SA Brigade in Madagascar in June 1943. The unit later joined 6SA Armoured Division’s 11 Armoured Brigade as a tank regiment and received drafts from Regiment Botha and various Armoured Car units. For a brief period, in 1944, the unit was part of the British 24th Guards Brigade, then attached to the South African division. Two battalions were formed in 1946 but the second was disbanded in 1954.

The unit took part in the Border War, notably deploying a tank squadron at Cuito Cuanavale in early 1989.

Battle honours:
• South-West Africa 1914 - 1915
• Madagascar 1942
• Italy 1944-1945
• Bagno Regio
• Sarteano
• La Foce
• Florence
• Gothic Line
• Caterelto Ridge
• Po Valley
• Cuito Cuanavale 1989

Motto: Nulli Secundus (Second to none, granted by Prime Minister Louis Botha after the South West Africa campaign.)

Source: Leon Engelbrecht, A Guide to the SANDF, Unpublished Manuscript, Johannesburg, 2007...

RE: Pretoria Regiment

The Pretoria Regiment is proud of its history and the gloriously emblazoned battle honours earned in campaigns in Africa, Italy, Madagascar and the late South West Africa.

The XIIth Infantry Battalion (The Pretoria Regiment) was formed on 01 July 1913, from the Headquarters and Pretoria elements of the Northern Rifles. To this was added the Pretoria based companies of the Central South African Volunteers, the Transvaal Scottish and the Transvaal Cycle and Motor Corps.


Before the Regiment was a month old C Company was mobilised for two days during the disorders on the Rand Goldmines. In January 19 14, when trouble broke out again, the Pretoria Regiment was given the task of guarding the railway yards and operating staff.

When war was declared on Germany on 21 August 1914 the XIIth Infantry Battalion (The Pretoria Regiment) was mobilised and sent into South West Africa. At one stage the Pretoria Regiment covered 230 miles on foot in 16 days, of which the last 80 miles were covered in 4 days with a final burst of 45 miles in the last 36 hours. Welcoming the Pretoria Regiment in 1915 the Prime Minister General Louis Botha, remarked to the Pretoria Regiment Commander: “If your motto is not’ Second to None” it should be. Fifty years later the regimental motto “Nulli Secundus” was inscribed on the new regimental badge. On conclusion of the South West Africa Campaign in 1915 most of the men joined the Imperial Service Units especially the 7th South African Infantry for the East African Campaign and the 3rd SAI for the war in Europe. At the battle of Delville Wood in July 1916, Capt LW. Tomlinson of the Pretoria Regiment was awarded the DSO and the French Croix de Guerre.

In 1922 Rand Revolt the Pretoria Regiment was reconstitute and within a few days of mobilisation there were 1000 all ranks under arms. Chiefly they freed the railway line from the Strikers’ control near Benoni.
On May 1928 the Pretoria Regiment provided a Guard of Honour for the first unfurling of South Africa’s flag by Princess Alice Countess of Artlone. In 1930 the princess was appointed Colonel-in-Chief and the title “Princess Alice’s Own (PAO)” were added after the name Pretoria Regiment. In 1931 the Regiment became fully bilingual and in 1937 a second battalion was formed as an Afrikaans-speaking unit.


On 23 July 140 the 1st Battalion, Pretoria Regiment (PAO) was sent to Madagascar in 1942 where they landed at Diego Suarex in co-operation with the Royal Marines. Here, for the first time, they met the Royal Welch Fusilliers to whom they had become affiliated in 1927. Warned that the Pretoria Regiment might have to fight a rearguard action should the Japanese occupy, Madagascar, preparations were made for the Regiment to become a guerrilla force.

After the Regiment returned from Madagascar, it was converted to armour, attached to the 6th SA Armoured Division, and sent to Italy. They went into their first action as an armoured unit at the village for Grotte S Stefano north of Rome where the whole Regiment of tanks formed up in line overlooking the village and poured 1200 rounds into it.

As a component of the 24th Division, the Regiment and the 5th Grenadier Guards led the advance on Orvieto. At Bagno Regio No 3 Troop of A Squadron was pegged down in the open for 36 hours. They fire...

RE: Pretoria Regiment

When winter of 1943-1944 set in, the Regiment first operated as infantry in the snows and then was re-equipped with 76 mm Sherman tanks plus six 105 mm Shermans. In February the Pretoria Regiment said farewell to the 24th Guards Brigade and moved back to reorganise as a combined armour reconnaissance regiment. It emerged with five Squadrons of five troops each. At a strength of 1200 men it was the largest armoured unit in the Commonwealth.

Returning to Castiglone in April, the push for the Po Valley began. The Regiment led the 6th SA Division advance west past Bologna.
The Po was crossed on 27 April and on the day they reached the Venetian Line on the slopes of Monte Berici Lt Col Johnstone received an immediate award of the Distinguished Service Order for his outstanding leadership in the whole Campaign and especially his skilful handling of the breakthrough of the Venetian Line.


In 1954 the Regiment was once again reduced to one amalgamated battalion and took part in the 1960 Emergency Operation Duiker.
During 1960 the suffix “Princess Alice’s Own (PAO)” was removed from the name of the Pretoria Regiment. During the Regiments Golden Jubilee celebrations a parade was held at the Caledonian Grounds on 29 June 1963, at which the Regiment received its new Colour the first to be manufactured in South Africa. 1 July 1963, at which the Regiment received the Major and City Council of Pretoria accorded the Regiment the honour of the Freedom to the City of Pretoria.

Exercises such as Applause 4, Mamba III, and Eland I showed that the Regiment had taken op the task of training itself in earnest. All the hard work also brought rewards. Evaluation results were very high and in 1981 the Pretoria Regiment was awarded the Brigade’s floating trophy for the best unit in the Brigade.

The Pretoria Regiment has seen many changes in history. In the 1960's tank crews were converted from Shermans and Mark IV armoured cars to Centurions and Ferrets. These in turn had to make way for the Eland 60 and later the Eland 90 Armoured car, and the Skokiaan tank followed by the Semel and finally the new Olifant MBT.

In spite of all this the spirit of the Pretoria Regiment has not changed. The job to be done comes first. This was clearly illustrated in 1982 when the Regiment supplied troops for the First Regimental tour of duty in the operational area, as infantry. The company took operational duty at Etanga where they spent the rest of the 3 months doing patrol work in the most adverse conditions. A tough comedown for any tank crew but done in PR style. It is interesting to note that these men reported for duty in July 1982, 42 years after the mobilisation of the Pretoria Regiment, also as infantry, for World War II.

In December 1987 the Pretoria Regiment sent a squadron of tanks into the battle of Cuito Cuanavale. During the battle Major Wim Grobler led the squadron. In a 58 minute engagement eight Angolan tanks were destroyed with the Regiment not losing a single man or tank. All members of the Regiment lived up to its motto - “Second to None”.

After his promotion Lt Col Wim Grobler commanded the Regiment from March 1991 until June 2000 before handing over command to Lt Col Cliff van der Westhuizen on 01 July 2000.

The battle honours on the Regimental Colour are SW Africa 1914-15, Madagascar 1942, Italy 1944-45, Bagno Reg...

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Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET


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