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MY GRANDFATHER WITH MY MOTHER WEARING HIS SSB UNIFORM

The Special Service Battalion was known as the SSB. It was formed on 1 May 1933 and it is therefore the 80th anniversary of the unit this year. The main aim was to counter the effects of the 1929 depression and to give training to men between the ages of 17 and 23 who then would find gainful employment. Many of them joined the civil service in various departments. The SSB taught soldiers military discipline, fitness and various trades to enable them to be employed by the Department of Labour and Welfare and in the private sector.

They served in various units and also saw active service during the Italian campaign.

My grandfather was a member of the unit.

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2013/post-3034-0-82908000-1357286539.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2013/post-3034-0-50514300-1357286580.jpg

CLOSE-UP OF THE UNIFORM DETAIL

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2013/post-3034-0-62173100-1357286784.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2013/post-3034-0-07671500-1357286939.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2013/post-3034-0-05978700-1357286974.jpg

SSB UNIFORM AND EQUIPMENT ITALIAN CAMPAIGN: WW2

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"Leg" attachments varied from "puttees", 4 buckle leggings to three buckle leggings.

These items are very rare and this specific pair was made in Johannesburg in 1940.

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Lieutenant-Colonel Klopper was one of the commanders of the SSB.

He is well-known for the surrender of Tobruk to Rommel.

The SSB regalia and his appointment is very clear as part of the saddle blanket on the horse in this photograph.

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Brilliant collection! I especially like the pre war KD kit.

>>>

For the benefit of others, three of South Africa's divisional commanders in WW2 had previously commanded the SSB:

1. Lt Col George Edwin Brink (OC SSB: May - Dec 1933) - D Mil Ops at start of WW2, then GOC 1 SA Div in East Afirca as a Maj Gen, GOC Inland Area, last post was Dir Gen Demob. Was responsible for mobilising the Union Defence Force in 1940 & demobilising it again in 1945! Retired as Lt Gen, CB, DSO, KStJ.

2. Maj W H Everard Poole (OC SSB Feb 1934 - Oct 1937) - Served as a Brigadier in Desert War, GOC 6th SA Armoured Division in Italy as Maj Gen. Dep CGS post-war as Maj Gen, CB, CBE, DSO.

3. Maj Gen Hermanus B Klopper (OC SSB Apr 1938 - Oct 1939) - Succeeded Maj Gen de Villiers as GOC 2 SA Div a few days before being ordered to hold the doomed former fortress of Tobruk. Later became a Lt Gen and Commandant General of the SA Defence Force.

>>>

Mention also needs to be made of the legendary Lt Col C E G "Pappa" Brits who commanded SSB during most of the Second World War. He had previously served as Adjutant 1937-1940 and prior to that RSM 1936-1937. I am not sure whether any other South African soldier fulfilled all three those roles within the same unit in their career!

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Thank you for the input, this unit deserves recognition and the book on its history and militaria is eagerly awaited.

The author has promised some copies of the photographs that he has found during his research and I will add them to this thread.

Many items from my collection regarding the unit will feature in the book including aspects such as swagger stick variations, headdress, uniforms, death plaques, webbing and photographs.

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Very interesting items, thank you for sharing. Indeed looking forward to a new book on the SSB that will cover a full period of the history relating the unit. I have a copy of an older book on the SSB by Cmdt W Otto that covers the period from 1933 to 1973. It is bilingual i.e. English and Afrikaans and has some interesting photos relating to uniforms and equipment.

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Hi Gavin,

This book will focus on all aspects of militaria during the 80 years of the unit's existence and less on the history which Otto covered very comprehensively.

The Armour Association in South Africa is in the process of commissioning a comprehensive book on the history of all the Armour Regiments in South Africa.

The SSB book will be a limited edition and the author showed me a copy of the draft which I think is of a very high standard and is very well illustrated with minute detail.

Regards,

Will

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William, thanks for the note. Good to see you online again. Certainly will look out for it when it is released. On a side note I also have a private published history written by an SSB office for the period of 1939 - 1945. With the information shared above I will make a plan to go through it as it is a fairly significant document. Cheers Gavin

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A South African Memorial Plaque to a member of the SSB.

Plaques to the unit are relatively scarce and do not often "surface".

They were given to the next of kin of personnel who lost their lives on active service and the name and the cause of death is inscribed on them.

This plaque was gicen to the family of an Afrikaans serving member and is therefore inscribed to the "SDB", tha Afrikaans translation for "SSB".

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Wartime cap badge. This one has been silvered. Badges were "silvered" when SSB became an armoured unit c. 1943. Previous versions were brass or bronze.

Edited by milhistry

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1st pattern shoulder arc, worn c. 1962-67 (see photo of Commandant Jack Dutton printed in Presentation of Colour pamphlet, 1966). English was wornon left, Afrikaans on right shoulder. During the 1960s the unit was known as "1 SSB Training Regiment" (the School of Armour was only established later). This particular set from my own collection are in bullion wire and were reputedly worn by the bandmaster.

(As an aside, Dutton was one of a handfull of SA Army officers who served in the Korean War. Attached to the Royal Tank Regiment his Centurion tank had a leaping springbok motif on the side. After commanding 1 SSB TRG REGT, Dutton became the first Director of Armour as a Brigadier. He retired as a Lieutenant General).

Edited by milhistry

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2nd pattern shoulder arc, worn from 1967. >>> Can anyone confirm date when these were discontinued? Thanks.

Edited by milhistry

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