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This is the page to document the history of the Commando units.



Skietpiet. CO810
Danie Theron Combat School First pattern shoulder flash (Cloth)
Danie Theron Combat School Second pattern shoulder flash (Enamel)
Danie Theron Combat School Third pattern shoulder flash (Rubberised)


Some 186 of these units existed at various stages and most of these have been demobilised. The Commando system was a unique military structure and was deeply rooted in SA history. To our knowledge no complete record of these units exists, and this page represents a start to an ambitious project. So the call-up has gone out to all Skiet Piets (Saffer was one too, with "boep en baard", he did his bit too!) to send in their pikkies and memories.

Early History

The Boer War commandos existed after the end of that war and in 1913 they were formed into Defence Rifle Associations (DRAs) for those men who were not members of the Active Citizen Force. This was a perpetuation of the Boer War commandos and many retained their old names. Officers did their training at the Military College in Voortrekkerhoogte. At the outbreak of World War One the DRAs were formed into brigades and regiments and saw active service in German South West Africa in 1915. In 1916 men of the DRAs also saw active service in German East Africa as part of the SA Horse. The ORBAT and deployment of South African units in GSWA Campaign and Rebellion is detailed here. Each man was an expert on a horse and with a rifle and proved his worth over and over again. The DRAs were renamed Skiet Kommandos after the First World War. The DRAs wore uniform similar to the regular army and wore cap and collar badges as depicted below. The Skiet Kommando badge is also included in the illustrations. In later years the motto was changed to Unitas as depicted in the badge illustrated above.

Transvaal Defence Rifle Association
Natal Defence Rifle Association
OFS Defence Rifle Association
Cape Defence Rifle Association
Skiet Kommando
Commando Cap badge (Brass)
Commando Beret badge
Commando Beret Bar

In the 1980s the Army created a special badge for all those members of the Commandos and Citizen Force who had served five years voluntary service. This was known as the "Emblem for Voluntary Service". There have been a number of variations of the badge and some of these are shown here.

5 Year Voluntary Service Badge
Worn on step-out uniform
5 Year Voluntary Service Badge
First pattern worn on field dress
5 Year Voluntary Service Badge
Second pattern worn on field dress
5 Year Voluntary Service Badge
First pattern worn on field dress

Commando Units

BTW, seeing as I "borrowed" much of this list from James McKenzie's catalogue(thus saving hours of one finger typing!), I'd better give him another plug. Insignia from many of the units on this list may be obtained from him. URL linked from [What's+New What's New]. Colin Owen has comprehesively documented the insignia of units in this list too. A number of these badges may also be obtainable from him. A number of images linked to this page are available from this reputable ebay dealer:

Historical Commando Listing

Listed below are the Commandos on record on medal cards at the British PRO. Kew. This listing is of interest on a number of counts. Firstly it illustrates the continuity of the Commando tradition. Many of these units (especially the "town" based units) existed until the recent disbanding of the Commando system, in many cases representing well over a century of unbroken service. Who are the custodians of this history now??

Secondly this is a case-study of military integration. This listing is extracted from a larger one representing BRITISH awards, medals and decorations. In many cases these units were implacable enemies of the British a mere 12 years before WW1.

Note the typos and spelling errors from the listing, these will be sorted out once sure of designations etc. "Berg" or "Burg" is a challenge.

BARKLY W. CDO. Barkley West Commando
BETHAL CDO. Bethal Commando
BLOEMHOF CDO. Bloemhof Commando
BOTHA'S CDO. Botha's Commando
BRAND'S CDO. Brand's Commando
BRITSTOWN CDO. Britstown Commando
BUTTFTN. CDO. Buttfontein Commando
CARNAVN. CDO. Carnarvon Commando
CAROLINA KDO. Carolina Kommando
CLANWLLM. CDO. Clanwilliam Commando
COLESBERG CDO. Colesberg Commando
CRADOCK CDO. Cradock Commando
DE AAR CDO. De Aar Commando
DEWITSDP. CDO. Dewetsdorp Commando
EAST RAND COM. East Rand Commando
ERMELO CDO. Ermelo Commando
FRANKFORT CDO. Frankfort Commando
FRASERBG. CDO. Fraserburg Commando
GEYSER'S CDO. Geyser's Commando
GRFF. REINET CDO. Graff Reinet Commando
GROBLERS CDO. Groblers Commando
HAY CDO. Hay Commando
HEIDELBG.CDO. Heidelberg Commando
HOOPSTAD CDO. Hoopstad Commando
JAGFTN. CDO. Jagersfontein Commando
KENHARDT CDO. Kenhardt Commando
KIMBERLEY CDO. Kimberley Commando
KRUGERSDORP CDO. Krugersdorp Commando
LIECHTENBURG CDO. Liechtenburg Commando Lichtenberg?
LINDLEN CDO. Lindlen Commando
LYDENBERG CDO. Lydenberg Commando
MARICO CDO. Marico Commando
MIDDLEBURG CDO. Middleburg Commando
MURRAYSBURG CDO. Murraysburg Commando
MYBURGH'S CDO. Myburgh's Commando
NAMAQUA KDO. Namaqualand Kommando
NAUDE'S CDO. Naude's Commando
NIEWDTVL. CDO. Niewouldtville Commando
PHILIPPOLIS CDO. Philippolis Commando
PIETERSBURG CDO. Pietersburg Commando
PIETRETIEF CDO. Pietretief Commando
POTCH. CDO. Potchefstroom Commando
PRESOTIA CDO. Pretoria Commando
PRIESKA CDO. Prieska Commando
PYPERS KDO. Pypers Kommando
REDDERSBG. CDO. Reddersburg Commando
RUSTENBG. CDO. Rustenberg Commando Rustenburg?
SPRINGBOK KDO. Springbok Kommando
STANDERTON CDO Standerton Commando
SUTHERLAND CDO. Sutherland Commando
TRIECHDT'S CDO. Triechdt's Commando
ULTRECHT KDO. Ultrecht Kommando
VAN DEVENTER'S CDO. Van Deventer's Commando
VAN ZYL'S CDO. Van Zyl's Commando
VICTORIA WEST CDO. Victoria West Commando
VRYHEID CDO. Vryheid Commando
WAKKSTM KDO. Wakkerstroom Kommando
WATERBG. KDO Waterberg Kommando
WESSEL'S CDO. Wessel's Commando
ZOUTPB'G CDO. Zoutpansberg Commando