A concise history of the South African Defence Force (1912-1987)

  • W.A. Dorning SADF archives
Keywords: redoubtable fighting machine, Union's war effort, the South African Forces, Union Defence Force (UDF), SA Defence Force celebrates its 75th anniversary


As the SA Defence Force celebrates its 75th anniversary, it can look back with pride at a truly remarkable history. Established just two years after Union, the fledging force was to be severely tested within the first two years of its existence to a degree perhaps unparalleled in the history of modern armies. Just over a year after its formation, when it still existed more on paper than in fact, the Union Defence Force (UDF) was called upon to suppress a violent industrial strike on the Reef. Having passed its first test with flying colours, the UDF was confronted a few months later by the far more serious crises of internal rebellion and World War. Once again, however, the young organization proved equal to the occasion, and by the end of the Great War the UDF had developed into a battle-hardened, professional force respected the world over for its prowess, courage and endurance in the field.
How to Cite
Dorning, W. (2012). A concise history of the South African Defence Force (1912-1987). Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies, 17(2). https://doi.org/10.5787/17-2-420