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South African Technical Services Corps - SATSC

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The TSC has been involved in all conflicts where South Africa was involved. During the First World War the repair of ordnance (cannon etc.) was performed by the South African Ordnance Corps. Armourers served with the SA Army in the South West Africa Campaign. After 1939 however, the TSC was a fully fledged Corps of the Union Army and Defence Force. After 1961 the TSC became a Corps of the South African Defence Force.

In the early years of the Union Defence Force (1925–1926) it is interesting to note the training of technical personnel. In the case of the Artillery Depot and Workshops the Technical personnel were qualified artisans whereas the South African Air Force, with its specialist tasks such as the assembly and maintenance of aircraft, trained their own technical staff.

The School of Technical Training was established at the beginning of 1937 as part of the Aircraft and Artillery Depot Organisation for the purpose of providing adequate facilities for the training of hundreds of apprentices attested in the SA Air Force. The school is divided into two sections, Basic Centre and the Advanced Centre. Apprentices are, in the first instance posted to the Basic Centre and are provided with a sound introduction to basic engineering as applied to aircraft work. For this purpose they have to be made familiar with the following conventional trades: ·

  • Machine Shop Practice.
  • ·
  • Sheet metal work and copper smithing.
  • ·
  • Woodwork.
  • ·
  • Blacksmithing
. There was another re-organisation and on 1 October 1937 the Air and Technical Services amalgamated under the control of Col Hoare though a month later Lt Col HC Daniel, MC, AFC took over as Director Air and Technical Services.

Col P de Waal was appointed Director of Coastal Defence on 1 April 1939 and on 1 July of the same year Technical Services was added to his appointment. Air Services was separated from the Technical Branch and Lt Col Daniel remained the Director. Director Coastal and Technical Services were responsible for:

  • Coastal Defence.
  • Technical Services that included the following:
  • Explosives.
  • Artillery Depots.
  • Mechanical Transport.
  • Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
  • Armouries.
Deputy Directors were appointed to assist Col de Waal and on 19 July 1939 Lt Col HT Newman, formerly of Royal Marines was appointed Deputy Director Coastal Defence; Lt Col Schoon was appointed Deputy Director Workshops and Technical Services on 21 July 1939, together with Lt Col KCS Layzell who was appointed Deputy Director Technical Services (Stores). The pattern was forming.

with the publication of the Governor–General’s Proclamation in the Government Gazette of 10 November 1939, the Technical Service Corps was officially created, and it arose from an amalgamation in part from the disbanded SAOC (Stores Depots, Magazines and Central Armoury) and of certain activities undertaken by the SAAF at the Aircraft and Artillery Depots at Voortrekkerhoogte and Cape Town.

The transfer of the Motor Transport Repair Section from the A & A Depot at Voortrekkerhoogte resulted in the formation of the base Motor Transport Workshop at Premier Mine in January 1940 under command of Major Horace F Harper.

At this stage the Artillery Workshops had also been transferred from the A & A Depot under the command of Lt FCH van Noordt and were established at Premier Mine. With van Noordt at Voortrekkerhoogte was a young Lt H McQueen who later was appointed as Chairman of the UDF Artisan Board with the rank of Lt Col, though this was not until February 1943. There was massive potential in all these untried young men and in the crucible of war this potential came to the fore. The Artillery Workshops were designated 66 Base General Workshops and van Noordt were promoted to Captain. Motor mechanics, Spray-painters and Sign writers, and an experimental section were all established as 61 Base General Workshop.

About the middle of 1940 it was decided that the SAAF should be entirely responsible for its own technical services and that Q services should be responsible for the provisioning of Motor Transport (MT). So the parting of the ways between the technical wings of the Air Force and the Army were now complete and will remain so till the late 1990’s.

There were several units already operating within the Technical Services organisation at the time. There were the “T” Stores Depots and Magazines at Pretoria and Cape Town, under senior officers, Majors AI Rothwell and CE Brown respectively, the “T” Stores at Tempe under Senior Stores Officer Major W B MacKay and the A & A at the Castle in Cape Town under the command of major E F Edwards. Lt A E Quarmby of the old Ordnance Armoury at the rear of Defence Headquarters was promoted and transferred to T S C Headquarters in hutment’s in the grounds of the old Pretoria Hospital, and Staff Sergeant A E Spradbury, an Armourer and a Springbok shottist, was commissioned as Lieutenant and appointed Officer Commanding the Central Armoury Workshop. This armoury was later designated 71 Technical Services Workshops (V) TSC–the “V” denoting “Volunteers “.

The Central Organisation of Technical Training (COTT) was established by the Director General of War Supplies and commenced operations towards the end of 1939. By the end of July 1940 there were 3576 trainees enlisted but by the introduction of shifts this total of young men training as machine operators could be raised to 12 000 at a time.

Quite a large number of women were trained under COTT from early 1941, though most of these went either to the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force or as operators in munitions factories and in engineering shops producing war supplies. A number of women were trained in basic fitting and were posted to 71 TS Armoury Workshops where they received further training in the repair of rifles.

During July 1940 the post of Deputy Director General of Technical Services was created. Lt Col G G Ewer, DSO, assumed duty as Officer Commanding Technical Services Corps. During this period a close liaison was being maintained between Deputy Director Technical Services (Workshops) (DDTS (W)) and the Base MT Workshops at Premier mine, where several mobile workshop units were being formed. The function of the Officer Commanding “ T “ Services Corps was similar to those normally required of an Officer Commanding a Regiment.

Workshops and warehouses at Premier Mine were taken over as the TSC base camp, with the married quarters of the mine in Oak Avenue used as the Officers Mess.

The year 1960 was a major one in the history of the Technical Services Corps, for this was the year that the present proud badge came into being. The bimetal device was adopted on 4 July 1960, replacing the cap badge of 1942. The stallion in white metal is alert, wears a headstall and stands with its hind feet on the subjacent scroll. The stallion with headstall indicates power under control, mechanical or horsepower, while the lightning flash symbolises electrical power. These symbols were freely adopted from the badge of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, which derived inspiration from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The scroll is subdivided into three proportions, the first containing the initials T.D.K., the second is without letters while the third has T.S.C.

A year later and shortly after South Africa was declared a Republic, the first of the new TSC badges was issued throughout the Corps.

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The Technical Service Corps doing a recovery
Some Technical Service Units of the SADF

Members of the SA Technical Services Corps on the Roll of Honour
YearForce NumberRankNameDate Of DeathUnit
197068413343 Pte Diedericks B.S. 1970/05/28Technical Services School
197770484753BT Pte Irvine C.M. 1977/02/2832 Field Workshop
197765576993BAPteVan Niewenhuizen W.J.J.1977/03/3132 Field Workshop
198005535166PES/SgtBlake J.A.1980/04/0361 Base Workshop
198279404075BGPteDe Beer J.F.1982/01/2861 Base Workshop
198275450353PEL/CplVan Staden J.J.G.1982/06/2961 Base Workshop
198276306315BGPteLouw J.1982/11/2661 Base Workshop
198379254371BG L/Cpl Van der Bijl F.P.L. 1983/05/28101 Field Workshop
198582341652BGPteGould P.N.1985/02/2261 Base Workshop
198581196776PEPteBotha P.1985/09/0661 Base Workshop
198605210554PE S/Sgt Janse van Vuuren J.F. 1986/12/2661 Base Workshop
198784372085BGPteMariano A.A.1987/03/08101 Field Workshop
198985457695BG Pte Bornman J. 1989/12/22North West Command Workshop
199081324592BT Pte Pieterse D.C. 1990/10/2631 Field Workshop

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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