Buffalo Volunteer Rifles

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Buffalo Volunteer Rifles
SANDF Buffalo Volunteers Rifles emblem
SANDF Buffalo Volunteers emblem
Active1876 to present
CountrySouth Africa
SizeOne battalion
Part ofSouth African Infantry Formation
Army Conventional Reserve
Garrison/HQEast London
Motto(s)Nunc animus (Now with courage)
Battle honours
  • Gaika-Gcaleka 1877
  • Bechuanaland 1897
  • South Africa 1899 - 1902
  • South-West Africa 1914 - 1915
  • Western Desert 1941 - 1943
  • Bardia
  • South-West Africa/Zambia 1979
  • South-West Africa/Angola 1975 - 1976
  • South-West Africa/Angola 1976 - 1989
Company level InsigniaSA Army Company Insignia.png
SA Motorised Infantry beret bar circa 1992
SA Motorised Infantry beret bar

The Buffalo Volunteer Rifles (BVR) (formerly the Kaffrarian Rifles) is an infantry regiment of the South African Army. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Army Reserve or United States Army National Guard unit.



This unit was formed in East London in 1876, as the Buffalo Corps of Rifle Volunteers, for service in the 9th Frontier War. It disbanded in 1879. (East London is situated on the Buffalo River, hence the name).[1]


The unit was re-formed in July 1883 and was named after the region of Kaffraria, the 19th-century name for the region around East London. There had previously been many other units from this region, from which the Regiment can also claim descent:

  • Kaffrarian Volunteer Corps,
  • Kaffrarian Mounted Rifles (Kaffrarian Rangers),
  • Buffalo Volunteer Rifles Corps,
  • Buffalo Volunteer Engineers,
  • Kaffrarian Volunteer Artillery Corps,
  • Berlin Mounted Volunteers,
  • Cape Mounted Yeomanry (1st Regiment),
  • Frontier Mounted Riflemen (Brabant's Horse),
  • East London Volunteers (Von Linsignen's Buffalo Corps and later Walkers Horse).[1]

On 1 December 1900 George Herbert Farrar was appointed as a Major in the Kaffrarian Rifles.

Under the Union Defence Force[edit]

By 1913 the unit was embodied in the Citizen Force as the 5th Infantry (Kaffrarian Rifles), but regained its old name in 1932. The unit was temporarily amalgamated with the First City Regiment, as the First City/The Kaffrarian Rifles from 1954 to 1956.


This Regiment and its predecessors took part in all of South Africa's armed conflicts, including:

Under the SANDF post 1994 and Peacekeeping[edit]

In order to keep pace with the changing political climate in South Africa, the regiment was renamed the Buffalo Volunteer Rifles in 1999, a revised form of the regiment's name when it was raised.[1] It is thus defacto and dejure the successor to the reserve SAA formations of the Eastern Cape.

As of 2014 this regiment is considered to be a "fully integrated and representative" army unit. Members have been attached to the United Nations Operation in Burundi and recently[when?] a Rifle company returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a six-month spell of active duty as part of MONUSCO.[2]


From Honorary Colonel To
From Officer Commanding To
From Regimental Sergeants Major To

Regimental symbols[edit]

  • Current regimental colour (since 2001): a dark green background with embroidered in the centre a wreath of ten proteas and two king proteas. Beneath the wreath and above the ribbon is an aloe with five blooms. This symbolises the BVR link with the Border region, the fact that some of its members are Xhosas from the greater Eastern Cape, and its status of the 5th Infantry Regiment from 1913 to 1933. Within the wreath is the regiment's Maltese cross (symbolic of the regiment's King's Royal Rifle Corps and German affiliations, as many of the Regiment's 19th century members were of German extraction) with a buffalo head in the centre, surrounded by two concentric circles. Between the circles the regimental motto, Nunc animus (meaning "Now with courage" or "Now without fear") is inscribed. At the top of the regimental crest is a powder horn, symbolizing the link with the British Royal Green Jackets regiment.[1]
  • East London bestowed the freedom of the city on the regiment on 25 May 1957.

Previous Dress Insignia[edit]

SADF era Buffalo Volunteer Rifles insignia

Current Dress Insignia[edit]

Buffalo Volunteer Rifles unique ranks

The Buffalo Volunteer Rifles still utilize a British Infantry tradition where officers had a red backing and ranks were blackened out on fatigues.

SANDF era Infantry Formation insignia


Battle honours[edit]

  • Gaika-Gcaleka 1877
  • Bechuanaland 1897
  • South Africa 1899 - 1902
  • South-West Africa 1914 - 1915
  • Western Desert 1941 - 1943
  • Bardia[a]
  • South-West Africa/Zambia 1979
  • South-West Africa/Angola 1975 - 1976
  • South-West Africa/Angola 1976 - 1989

The regiment claims four more battle honours, which have not been acknowledged:


  1. ^ Because the Germans captured almost the entire regiment at Tobruk in June 1942, the regiment received no further World War II battle honours.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Englebrecht, Leon (17 June 2010). "Fact file: Buffalo Volunteer Rifles". defenceweb.co.za. DefenceWeb. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  2. ^ "History of the BVR" (PDF). www.rfdiv.mil.za. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.

External links[edit]