1 Special Service Battalion

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1 Special Service Battalion
SANDF 1 Special Service Battalion emblem
Active1 May 1933 – present
Country South Africa
Branch South African Army
Part ofSouth African Armoured Formation
Garrison/HQTempe 29°05′0″S 26°11′0″E / 29.08333°S 26.18333°E / -29.08333; 26.18333Coordinates: 29°05′0″S 26°11′0″E / 29.08333°S 26.18333°E / -29.08333; 26.18333
Motto(s)Eendrag Maakt Mag (Unity is Strength)
ColorsOrange over Blue which must be divided by Silver and where it is not possible to use silver white will be used in place
Battle honours
Italy 1944-45
Gothic Line
The Greve
Po Valley
South West Africa/Angola 1975-1976
South West Africa/Angola 1976-1989
Cuito Cuanaval
Cap BadgeA spray of three protea flowers, bound by a ribbon bearing the initials and motto
Beret ColourBlack
Armour Squadron emblemsSANDF Armour squadron emblems
Armour beret bar circa 1992SANDF Armour beret bar

1 Special Service Battalion (usually abbreviated to 1SSB) is an armoured regiment of the South African Army and only one of two such in its regular force. The Regiment is based at Tempe near Bloemfontein.

It was previously known in Afrikaans as 1 Spesiale Diens Bataljon (1 SDB).


Map of the Free State
1 Special Service Battalion
1 Special Service Battalion
Battle icon active (crossed swords).svg 1 Special Service Battalion
Rooikat at the entrance to 1SSB, Bloemfontein.

Following World War II, the Special Service Battalion was re-organised into 2 battalions - 1 Special Service Battalion and 1 South African Infantry Battalion.

When the South African Armoured Corps was thus officially proclaimed in 1946 and Special Service Battalion was included in the corps as the only full-time unit, its symbols and colours were incorporated.

1 SSB also took part in the South African Border War, serving in South-West Africa and Angola.[1]

Rooikat Armoured Car

More recently, the unit also took part in Operation Boleas, which was a South African intervention in its neighbouring country of Lesotho in 1998.

1 SSB had a sister unit for a number of years in the post-World War II era, designated 2 Special Service Battalion, which was based in the town of Zeerust. This unit has now been disbanded.

1 SSB also detached squadrons to various battlegroups in the South West African campaign

63 Mech Battlegroup to which 1 SSB detached


pre 1995[edit]

Variant Description Comment Image
Eland 60  South Africa Mortar platform Eland 60 Armoured Car
Eland 90  South Africa Fire support platform and assault gun Eland 90 armoured car


The regiment is equipped primarily with Ratel infantry fighting vehicles and Rooikat armoured cars.

Variant Description Comment Image
Rooikat 76  South Africa 76mm cannon Rooikat Armoured Car 105mm
Ratel 90  South Africa 90mm cannon Ratel 90mm
Ratel ZT3  South Africa antitank missile Ratel IFC ZT3


Under Project Hoefyster, the SANDF will eventually replace the Ratel family of vehicles with the Badger system.[2] [3] Five versions are contemplated of which two are earmarked for 1 SSB:

  • Missile (turreted Denel ZT3 Ingwe)
  • Fire Support (turreted 30mm cannon, but with more ammunition than the section vehicle)
Variant Description Comment Image
Denel Badger various types  South Africa Various armaments IFV earmarked for replacement of the Ratel Fleet 2016 onwards

Regimental symbols[edit]

Previous Dress Insignia[edit]

SADF era 1 Special Services Battalion insignia
SADF era Operation Hooper participation bar
SADF era 1 SSB D Squadron with 2 SAI insignia

Current Dress Insignia[edit]


1 Special Services Battalion Leadership
From Commanding Officers To
May 1933 Lt. Col. GE Poole DSO Nov 1933
Dec 1933 Lt. Col. P de Waal Jan 1934
Feb 1934 Lt. Col. WHE Poole Apr 1935
May 1935 Lt. Col. J Danie Jan 1936
Feb 1936 Maj. JR Wocke Dec 1937
Jan 1938 Lt. Col. HB Klopper Sep 1939
Oct 1939 Lt. Col. HP van Noorden Dec 1939
Jan 1940 Lt. Col. GCA van Dam Jun 1940
Jun 1940 Lt. Col. CEG (Papa) Brits DSO Aug 1946
Sep 1946 Lt. Col. GN Nauhaus OBE May 1949
Jun 1949 Maj. EE Fodred MC Aug 1949
Sep 1949 Maj. PE Ferguson MC Jan 1951
Feb 1951 Cmdt. CS Leisegang DSO Sep 1953
Oct 1953 Cmdt. W.R. Van Der Riet MC[a] Dec 1960
Jan 1961 Cmdt. S Hugo. SM Jun 1963
Jul 1963 Cmdt. JJ Wahl. MC Oct 1964
Nov 1964 Cmdt. JR Dutton. SSA SD Nov 1967
Dec 1967 Cmdt. WH Matthews. SM Nov 1968
Dec 1968 Cmdt. MB Anderson May 1969
Apr 1969 Cmdt. WC Meyer Sep 1972
Oct 1972 Cmdt. PJ Schalkwyk Jul 1973
Aug 1973 Maj. AJ Snyman[b] Nov 1973
Nov 1973 Cmdt. APR Carstens Nov 1976
Dec 1976 Cmdt. R Otto[c] Dec 1979
Jan 1980 Cmdt. FA Botha Nov 1981
Dec 1981 Cmdt. AJ van Niekerk Nov 1983
Dec 1983 Cmdt. HT Heinze Nov 1986
December 1986 Cmdt. AJ Kriel May 1989
Jun 1989 Cmdt. AJ van Jaarsveld Nov 1989
Dec 1989 Cmdt. BC Gildenhuys[d] Dec 1993
Jan 1994 Col. GM Louw. HC MMM unk
From Regimental Sergeants Major To
May 1933 RSM J Whammond. MC DCM MM Feb 1934
Mar 1934 RSM LJ van den Heever May 1934
Jun 1934 RSM BS Scheepers May 1935
Jun 1935 RSM SP Conje Jun 1935
Sep 1936 RSM CEG Brits Mar 1937
Apr 1937 RSM JO van Blommenstein May 1940
Jun 1940 RSM JW Hamilton Jan 1943
Feb 1943 WO1 S du Plessis. MC Aug 1946
Sep 1946 WO1 WE Wocke Oct 1951
Nov 1950 WO1 S du Plessis. MM Sep 1953
Oct 1953 WO1 WJ van der Merwe. SM Dec 1965
Jan 1966 WO1 BJP Ehlers. PMM Oct 1972
Nov 1972 WO1 MA Booyens PMM MMM Sep 1976
Oct 1976 WO1 JP. O'Neill Nov 1978
Dec 1978 WO1 PH Rohrbeck PMM Jan 1979
Feb 1979 WO1 GDF van Baalen PMM MMM Nov 1984
Jun 1984 WO1 IJ Prinsloo Nov 1988
Dec 1988 WO1 WF Snyman PMM MMM Nov 1993
Dec 1993 WO1 JAB van Zyl unk
From Chaplains To


Battle honours[edit]

Italy 1944-45
Gothic Line
The Greve
Po Valley
South West Africa/Angola 1975-1976
South West Africa/Angola 1976-1989
Cuito Cuanaval


This unit will together with 1 SA Tank Regiment form the Armoured Brigade of the new Mechanized Division to be formed under Army vision 2020.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

South African Armoured Corps


  1. ^ Later Lt Gen W.R. Van Der Riet SSA SD MC
  2. ^ acting
  3. ^ Later Lieutenant General Reginald Otto SD & Bar SM MMM
  4. ^ Later Brigadier General Chris Gildenhuys SM MMM


  1. ^ Engelbrecht, Leon (1 March 2010). "Fact File: 1 Special Service Battalion". defenceweb.co.za. DefenceWeb. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  2. ^ Leon Engelbrecht. "SA Army horse shod by December? | defenceWeb". Archived from the original on 2015-03-28. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  3. ^ Natalie Greve. "Land Systems SA secures sights contract for Denel’s Badger". Archived from the original on 2015-03-28. Retrieved 2015-03-25.

External links[edit]