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7 South African Infantry Division was a formation of the South African Army, active from the 1960s to 1999.

7 Infantry Division and 17, 18 and 19 Brigades were established on 1 April 1965.[1] Difficulties with manning levels saw the disestablishment of 7 SA Division on 1 November 1967 and its replacement by the Army Task Force (HQ) and 16 Brigade.

From 1 September 1972 Army Task Force Headquarters was redesignated HQ 7 Infantry Division.[2] Two years later, it was decided to organize the Army's conventional force into two divisions under a corps headquarters. Both were primarily reserve (Citizen Force) formations, though the division and brigade HQs were Permanent Force. The headquarters of the two divisions were established on 1 August 1974. 1 South African Corps itself was established in August 1974 and was active until 30 January 1977.[3] It appears from Colonel Lionel Crook's book on 71 Brigade[4] that two of the division's three brigades were redesignations of 17th and 18th Brigades. 71 Motorised Brigade was the former 17 Brigade, 72 Brigade was the former 18 Brigade, and 73 Brigade was a new formation.[4]

71 Motorised Brigade was established at Cape Town (in the Western Province Command area), and 72 Motorised Brigade and 73 Motorised Brigade around Johannesburg and Pretoria. Units transferred from Western Province Command to the new 71 Motorised Brigade included the Cape Field Artillery, the Cape Town Highlanders, Regiment Westelike Provinsie, Regiment Boland, Regiment Oranjerivier, a South African Engineer Corps field squadron, 74 Signal Squadron SACS, 4 Maintenance Unit SAOSC, 30 Field Workshop SAOSC, and 3 Field Ambulance.[4]:16 12 Supply and Transport Company, originally established on 22 August 1961, became 4 Maintenance Unit on 1 September 1971.

72 Motorised Brigade appears to have been made up of the following units, soon after formation in 1972.[5] Infantry included 1st Battalion, Transvaal Scottish, the South African Irish Regiment, and the Johannesburg Regiment, artillery was provided by the Transvaal Horse Artillery, armour by the 1 Light Horse Regiment, engineer support by 12 Field Squadron SAEC, signals by 72 Signals Unit SACS, and service support by 31 Field Workshop and 7 Maintenance Unit.

73 Motorised Brigade may have had its headquarters at Kensington (Johannesburg) for some time.

In the early 1980s, the Army was restructured in order to counter all forms of insurgency while at the same time maintaining a credible conventional force. To meet these requirements, the Army was subdivided into conventional and counterinsurgency forces. The Citizen Force, through the 7th and 8th Divisions, provided the conventional defence force. In 1984 Northern Transvaal Command was subdivided and Far North Command (Pietersburg) formed. The two new Commands were regarded as theatres and as such also had responsibility for conventional operations (and units) within their areas.[6] Far North Command had 73 Motorised Brigade within its area; it is not clear how much influence HQ 7 SA Division then had over the brigade.

In the latter half of 1991 the official division designation of 7 SA Division was altered to 7 SA Infantry Division.[7]

After 1992, and until 1 April 1997, the Army reduced the division's size while creating a third divisional headquarters. Divisional headquarters remained in the Johannesburg area (7 Division).[8] They consisted of a reconnaissance battalion, two anti-aircraft defence battalions (AA guns), two battalions of artillery (G-5s and G-6s), a battalion of 127 mm MRLs, an engineer battalion, two battalions of Olifant MBTs, two battalions mounted in Ratel ICVs, and finally two battalions mounted in Buffel APCs. To provide part of these forces, 6th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment SAA joined the division in 1991.

They were all amalgamated into the 7th South African Division on 1 April 1997, and became the 73rd, 74th and 75th Brigades respectively.[9] 7th Division was disbanded on 1 April 1999 and all army battalions were assigned to 'type' formations, in accordance with the recommendations of the South African Defence Review 1998.[10]


  1. Dorning, W.A. (28 February 2012). "A concise history of the South African Defence Force (1912-1987)" (Online). Digital object identifier:10.5787/17-2-420. ISSN 2224-0020. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  2. Dorning, and Monick, 'The Forging of a Strike Force Part II,' Scientia Militaria, 22/3, 1992, p.32 fn 1.
  3. "SACMP Corps History 1946-1988". Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Crook, Lionel, Col (Rtd) (1994). Greenbank, Michele. ed. 71 Motorised Brigade: a history of the headquarters 71 Motorised Brigade and of the citizen force units under its command. Brackenfell, South Africa: L. Crook in conjunction with the South African Legion. ISBN 9780620165242. OCLC 35814757. 
  5. Monick, Part II, 1992, p.31
  6. "A Short History of the South African Army". From: South African Defence Force Review 1991. 1991. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  7. Monick Part II, p.32 fn 1
  8. See Jane's Defence Weekly 20 December 1992 and, earlier, 20 July 1991. Divisional HQ location source
  9. "SACMP Corps History 1988–98". Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  10. Engelbrecht, Leon (17 February 2010). "Fact file: 7 SA Division". efenceWeb. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 


  • John Keegan, World Armies, p. 639, cited in Lt Cdr Carl T. Orbann USN, 'South African Defense Policy,' Thesis for the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA., June 1984. Keegan edited this volume, though a different author wrote the section on the South African Army. There are at least three errors in the listing of 7 and 8 Divisions described as being as of the date of the book (1979 or 1983). Two towns are misspelt, and one regiment still has the royal title incorporated despite the 'Royal' prefix having been dropped after 1965. Thus it is not clear how accurate the South African order-of-battle section is.

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