Rudolph Hiemstra

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Rudolph Christiaan Hiemstra
Gen Rudolph Hiemstra.jpg
Nickname(s) Rudi
Born (1912-03-10)10 March 1912
Lydenburg, South Africa
Died 26 July 2007(2007-07-26) (aged 95)
Pretoria, South Africa
Allegiance South Africa
Service/branch South African Air Force
Years of service 1931–1972
Rank General
Service number 01217207PE
Commands held Commandant General of the South African Defence Force
2 Squadron SAAF
Awards Star of South Africa
Southern Cross Medal
Knight of the Order of Prince Henry (Portugal)
Spouse(s) Gertruida Hiemstra (wife)
Relations Judge Victor Hiemstra (brother)

General Rudolph Hiemstra, SSA, SM (10 March 1912[1] – 26 July 2007) was a South African Air Force commander who served as Commandant General of the South African Defence Force.[2][3]

Military career[edit]

Hiemstra joined the South African Air Force in 1931. He did not serve in the Second World War because of his political opposition to South Africa's involvement in the war and was transferred to the civil service, from which he returned to the defence force when the National Party government came to power in 1948.

Hiemstra was Military Attaché in Sweden, France and the United Kingdom.[4] Among other appointments, he was officer commanding 2 Squadron SAAF, The Flying Cheetahs.[4]

Hiemstra served as Adjutant General, interrupted by his attendance at the Imperial Defence College,[1] as Inspector General from 1959 to 1960, as Deputy Commandant General from 1961 to 1965, and as Commandant General of the South African Defence Force from 1965 to 1972. In 1966, the Commandant General was appointed Secretary for Defence over and above his appointment as head of the South African Defence Force.

In May 1967, the dual title of Commandant General and Secretary for Defence was dispensed with by the elimination of the title "Secretary for Defence". The Commandant General, as permanent head of the Department of Defence as well as of the South African Defence Force filled the post of Commandant General, which post embraced the functions signified by the former dual title. At the same time the rank of Commandant General, instituted in September 1956, was changed to that of general.[5]

In 1960, Hiemstra was awarded the Star of South Africa for exceptional services.[4] He was also awarded the Southern Cross Medal and appointed a Knight of the Order of Prince Henry from Portugal.


Hiemstra died on 26 July 2007, aged 95, in 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. He was survived by six children, sixteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren.[4]

Among his influential brothers were Dr Louis W. Hiemstra, who made his in mark in the field of journalism, and Judge Victor Hiemstra of Pretoria.[4]


  1. ^ a b Who's Who of Souther Africa 1959. Ken Donaldson (Pty) Ltd. 1959. p. 290.
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e Britz, Elretha (27 July 2007). "Oud-weermaghoof RC Hiemstra sterf". Beeld (in Afrikaans). Media24. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  5. ^ STRATFORD, DO (December 1968). "The Office of Secretary for Defence". Military History Journal. Johannesburg: South African Military History Society. 1 (3). SA. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
Military offices
Preceded by
Pieter Grobbelaar
Commandant General of the South African Defence Force
Succeeded by
Hugo Biermann
Preceded by
Stephen Melville
Inspector General South African Defence Force
Post disbanded
Preceded by
SJ Joubert
Adjutant General South African Defence Force
Succeeded by
Christiaan Hartzenberg