South African Medical Service

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The South African Medical Service (SAMS) was a branch of the South African Defence Force (SADF). In 1994 when the SADF was merged with various other military and armed resistance forces as part of the post-apartheid reforms the SAMS became the South African Military Health Service of the South African National Defence Force.


The SA Defence Act Amendment Act, No. 22 of 1922 re-organised the Permanent Force. From 1 February 1923 the Permanent Force consisted a number of Corps, including the SA Medical Corps.[1][2]

By that time three Medical Corps were already in existence, the Transvaal Medical Corps (established in 1903), the Natal Volunteer Medical Corps (established in 1899) and the Cape Medical Staff Corps.[3]

The SAMS was established in July 1979 as a service branch of the SADF.[4] The establishment combined the medical services of the Army, Navy and the Air Force. The head of the SAMS was the Surgeon-General who had the rank of Lieutenant-General.[5]

The role of the SAMS was to provide health and medical support services to the SADF, it included a veterinary section that looked after dogs and horses. The SAMS operated three hospitals, 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, 2 Military Hospital in Cape Town, and 3 Military Hospital in Bloemfontein. It also had three specialist institutes; the Institute for Aviation Medicine, the Institute for Maritime Medicine, and the Military Psychological Institute.[5]


South African Medical Service
From Surgeons General To
1 February 1960 Maj Gen Eugene Raymond SSA SM 31 March 1969
1 April 1969 Lt Gen Colin Cockcroft SSA SM 31 October 1977
1 November 1977 Lt Gen Nicolaas Nieuwoudt SSA SD SM 29 February 1988
1 March 1988 Lt Gen Daniel Knobel SSAS SD SOE SM MMM KStJ MBC HB PHD 27 April 1994


  1. ^ Lillie, A.C. (1982). "THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN ARMY". South African Journal of Military Studies 12 (2). 
  2. ^ Orpen, Neil. "Appendix 1:THE UNION DEFENCE FORCE BEFORE 1933". HyperWar. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ Pretorius, C.M.L (1982). "DIE SAGD - SY ONTSTAAN EN ONTWIKKELING". Scientaria Militaria 12 (2). 
  4. ^ "A Brief History of the South African Defence Force (SADF) 1912 1994. Part 2". Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  5. ^ a b "South Africa Medical Service". Retrieved 2014-01-26.