Van Ryneveld vs Blaine: the UDFI as a civil-military relations football, 1939-1945

  • Ian Van der Waag Military History Department, University of Stellenbosch (South African Military Academy)
Keywords: Sutlers, South African Forces Institute, Lord Roberts, South African Garrison Institute (SAGI), offering goods and services to troops, Union Defence Force Institute (UDFI)


The South African Forces Institute has a unique place not only in the field of military history but also in the province of South African business history. SAFI was a unique organisation established by Lord Roberts, under the designation South African Garrison Institute (SAGI), to fulfil a unique function: to provide the military in South Africa with unified canteen facilities, offering goods and services to troops at reasonable prices. This was aimed specifically at putting an end to the troublesome tradition of those small traders, known as sutlers, who followed armies and exacted extortionate prices from underpaid soldiers for inferior goods.