S A Armour Corps





SOUTH AFRICAN
ARMOUR COMMUNITY



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SOUTH AFRICAN TANK CORPS
History | Officers Commanding | RSM | Insignia | Customs
History       Go top
At the start of the war, South African had no armoured units. Some of the Active Citizen Force units, such as the Imperial Light Horse, had cavalry titles but all were infantry battalions. Only the Defence Rifle Associations maintained mounted units. As mentioned above, a Mounted Commando Division was formed during the war but this eventually was converted to armoured units. Many armoured car, tank and motorcycle companies were formed during the first half of 1940. These were eventually formed into units of the South African Tank Corps. The South African Tank Corps (SATC) had its beginnings in the formation of 1st Armoured Car Company, which was raised from the Permanent Force on 31 January 1940. The personnel of this company went on to form 1st Light Tank Company in May 1940 and moved to Kenya on 1 June 1940 equipped with 12 Mk III Light Tanks. As additional companies were formed or about to be formed, it was necessary to establish an organization for these units. The 1st Battalion, The South African Tank Corps was established at Robert’s Heights on 23 May 1940 as a holding unit for the 1st Light Tank Company, 1st and 2nd Armoured Car Companies and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Motorcycle Companies. The 1st Battalion was reorganized on 15 July 1940 into Nos. 1 and 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicle Battalions, but both battalions were later disestablished since many units had transferred to East Africa. The following units of the SATC were formed during 1940:


• 1st Light Tank Company – Raised May 1940 from original 1st Armoured Car Company.
• 1st Armoured Car Company – Reconstituted in May 1940.
• 2nd Armoured Car Company – Raised in April 1940 from the South African Police.
• 3rd Armoured Car Company – Raised in May 1940 from volunteers.
• 4th Armoured Car Company – Raised in June 1940 from volunteers.
• 5th Armoured Car Company – Raised in June 1940 from volunteers.
• 11th Armoured Car Company – Raised on 1 September 1940 from Regiment Suid-Westelike Distrikte.
• 12th Armoured Car Company – Raised on 1 September 1940 from Regiment Westelike Provinsie.
• 13th Armoured Car Company – Raised 3 October 1940 from 2nd Imperial Light Horse.
• 14th Armoured Car Company – Raised 3 October 1940 from 2nd Royal Natal Carabineers.
• 21st Armoured Car Company – Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
• 22nd Armoured Car Company – Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
• 23rd Armoured Car Company – Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
• 24th Armoured Car Company – Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
• 31st Armoured Car Company – Raised 1940 from the Special Service Battalion.
• 34th Armoured Car Company – Raised January 1941 from the Cape Town Highlanders.
• 1st Motorcycle Company – Raised May 1940 from the South African Police.
• 2nd Motorcycle Company – Raised May 1940.
• 3rd Motorcycle Company – Raised May 1940.


A number of the companies served in East Africa (1st Light Tank Company; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 13th, 14th Armoured Car Companies; and 1st, 2nd Motorcycle Companies). By 1941, all companies were absorbed into battalions of the South African Tank Corps. The South African Tank Corps was to be short-lived and was absorbed into the South African Armoured Corps in 1943.


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