The antecedents of the field and air defence units of today are the numerous volunteer corps that flourished in the Cape Colony from 1855, many of which lasted only a few years and some, less than months. At least two were active in Natal and, after the Anglo/Boer War when the Transvaal became a colony, a volunteer artillery corps was established there. One in each of these three former colonies is still alive today.
Regular units were established in the former republics of the Transvaal and the Free State but they both disappeared during the South African War of 1899-1902. They had fought bravely.
The South African Defence Act of 1912 (Act No. 13 of 1912) gave birth on 1 April 1913 to the five regiments of South African Mounted Rifles (SAMR), all of which were to have included a battery of artillery. Only three batteries were formed due to problems with the supply of guns; World War One had begun in August 1914 and Britain itself needed all the guns it could produce.
On 1 July 1913, three months after the SAMR was established, three volunteer units, one each from the Cape (Cape Field Artillery), Natal (Natal Field Artillery) and the Transvaal (Transvaal Horse Artillery), were incorporated into the Active Citizen Force (ACF), and one, the Cape Garrison Artillery, into the Coast Garrison Force. A new unit, the Durban Garrison Artillery was established on the same date. These units and the three SAMR batteries, together with two ACF batteries raised specially for the campaign, saw action in German South West Africa during the period 1914/1915.
In 1915, two Imperial Service units; titled South African Field Artillery and the South African: Heavy Artillery, were raised from volunteers to fight in France and East Africa respectively. Paid by the British Government, they were not part of the Union Defence Forces but nevertheless added lustre to the already growing reputation of South African Gunners.
The South African Permanent Force, created in 1913 as the Permanent Force and re-designated with effect from 23 February 1923, included two units
- The South African Field Artillery (SAFA), and
- The South African Permanent Garrison Artillery (SAPGA)
Both had commenced operations some time before this date; the SAPGA when the coast defences of the Cape Peninsula had been handed over to South Africa in December 1921.
The Governor General by Proclamation No. 246, 1934 changed the style and designation of the SAFA and the SAPGA with effect from 1 September 1934 and created one Corps titled the “South African Artillery”.
This is the Corps that provided field, medium, anti-tank and anti-aircraft units that fought in East Africa, the Western Desert of North Africa and Italy in 1940 – 1945, adding to the reputation established by South African field and heavy artillery units in 1915-1918.
The Artillery Corps consisted of the Field Branch and the Anti-Aircraft Branch but in 1988 the two branches were seperated to become the South African Artillery Corps and the South African Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps. In 1998 the latter was re-designated Air Defence Artillery. With the creation of the SANDF in 1994, the gunners of the SADF, the former new statutory forces and the former TBVC forces were integrated.
Both the South African Artillery and the Anti-Aircraft Artillery had Directorates to manage the Permanent Force and Citizen Force personnel and units, to manage projects undertaken for the improvement of resources and to generally oversee the well-being of their corps.
This came to an end in 1994 with the complete re-organisation of the Defence Force during which ‘type’ formations were created. Thus today, the field and air defence units are under the command of SA Army Artillery Formation and SA Army Defence Artillery Formation respectively. Each Formation is commanded by a Brigadier General. Both Corps were allied to the Royal Regiment of Artillery on 5 June 1996.
The Official March of the Field branch is: Vuurmonde and that of the Air Defence branch : Alta Pete
Source :The Gunner