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
Unit 2 Squadron SAAF
  • PRT Order of Prince Henry - Knight BAR.png Order of Prince Henry - Knight (Portugal)

Gertruida Hiemstra (wife)

Judge Victor Hiemstra (Brother)

General Rudolph Hiemstra SSA SM (10 March 1912[1] – 26 July 2007) was a former Chief 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 World War II 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 (South Africa) government came to power in 1948.

He was Military Attaché in Sweden, France and the United Kingdom.[4]

Among other appointments, he was officer commanding of the renowned 2 Squadron SAAF, The Flying Cheetahs.[4]

He 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, i.e. chief of the SA 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 SA Defence Force.

During 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, SADF, 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]

Awards and Decorations[edit]

In 1960 he was awarded the Star of South Africa (SSA) for exceptional services.[4]

  • PRT Order of Prince Henry - Knight BAR.png Order of Prince Henry - Knight (Portugal)


He died on 26 July 2007 aged 95 in 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.[4]

He is survived by six children, sixteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren.[4]

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

See also[edit]


  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 f 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 SADF
1965 – 1972
Succeeded by
Hugo Biermann
Preceded by
Stephen Melville
Inspector General SADF
1959 – 1960
Succeeded by
Preceded by
SJ Joubert
Adjutant General SADF
1953 – 1959
Succeeded by
Christiaan Hartzenberg