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 November 1933
December 1933 Lt. Col. P de Waal January 1934
February 1934 Lt. Col. WHE Poole April 1935
May 1935 Lt. Col. J Danie January 1936
February 1936 Maj. JR Wocke December 1937
January 1938 Lt. Col. HB Klopper September 1939
October 1939 Lt. Col. HP van Noorden December 1939
January 1940 Lt. Col. GCA van Dam June 1940
June 1940 Lt. Col. CEG (Papa) Brits DSO August 1946
September 1946 Lt. Col. GN Nauhaus OBE May 1949
June 1949 Maj. EE Fodred MC August 1949
September 1949 Maj. PE Ferguson MC January 1951
February 1951 Cmdt. CS Leisegang DSO September 1953
October 1953 Cmdt. W.R. Van Der Riet MC[a] December 1960
January 1961 Cmdt. S Hugo. SM June 1963
July 1963 Cmdt. JJ Wahl. MC October 1964
November 1964 Cmdt. JR Dutton. SSA SD November 1967
December 1967 Cmdt. WH Matthews. SM November 1968
December 1968 Cmdt. MB Anderson May 1969
April 1969 Cmdt. WC Meyer September 1972
October 1972 Cmdt. PJ Schalkwyk July 1973
August 1973 Maj. AJ Snyman[b] November 1973
November 1973 Cmdt. APR Carstens November 1976
December 1976 Cmdt. R Otto[c] December 1979
January 1980 Cmdt. FA Botha November 1981
December 1981 Cmdt. AJ van Niekerk November 1983
December 1983 Cmdt. HT Heinze November 1986
December 1986 Cmdt. AJ Kriel May 1989
June 1989 Cmdt. AJ van Jaarsveld November 1989
December 1989 Cmdt. BC Gildenhuys[d] December 1993
January 1994 Col. GM Louw. HC MMM unk
From Regimental Sergeants Major To
May 1933 RSM J Whammond. MC DCM MM February 1934
March 1934 RSM LJ van den Heever May 1934
June 1934 RSM BS Scheepers May 1935
June 1935 RSM SP Conje June 1935
September 1936 RSM CEG Brits March 1937
April 1937 RSM JO van Blommenstein May 1940
June 1940 RSM JW Hamilton January 1943
February 1943 WO1 S du Plessis. MC August 1946
September 1946 WO1 WE Wocke October 1951
November 1950 WO1 S du Plessis. MM September 1953
October 1953 WO1 WJ van der Merwe. SM December 1965
January 1966 WO1 BJP Ehlers. PMM October 1972
November 1972 WO1 MA Booyens PMM MMM September 1976
October 1976 WO1 JP. O'Neill November 1978
December 1978 WO1 PH Rohrbeck PMM January 1979
February 1979 WO1 GDF van Baalen PMM MMM November 1984
June 1984 WO1 IJ Prinsloo November 1988
December 1988 WO1 WF Snyman PMM MMM November 1993
December 1993 WO1 JAB van Zyl unk
From Chaplains To
December 1987 Lt Reverend (Dominee)Heerden van Niekerk(NG Kerk(Afrikaans)/Dutch Reformed Church) December 1988


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 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  3. ^ Natalie Greve. "Land Systems SA secures sights contract for Denel's Badger". Archived from the original on 2014-08-20. Retrieved 2015-03-25.

External links[edit]