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Rudolph Christiaan Hiemstra
File:Gen Rudolph Hiemstra.jpg
Born (1912-03-10)10 March 1912
Died 26 July 2007(2007-07-26) (aged 95)
Place of birth Lydenburg, South Africa
Place of death Pretoria, South Africa
Allegiance South Africa
Service/branch South African Air Force
Rank General
Awards Star of South Africa
Southern Cross Medal

General Rudolph Hiemstra SSA SM (10 March 1912[1] – 26 July 2007) was a former Chief of the South African Defence Force.[2][3]

Military career

Hiemstra joined the South African Air Force in 1931. He did not serve in World War II because of his political opposition to South Africa's involvement in the war and was transferred to the civil service, from which he returned to the defence force when the National Party (South Africa) government came to power in 1948.

He was Military Attaché in Sweden, France and the United Kingdom.[4]

Among other appointments, he was officer commanding of the renowned 2 Squadron SAAF, The Flying Cheetahs.[4]

He served as Adjutant-General, interrupted by his attendance at the Imperial Defence College,[1] as Inspector-General from 1959 to 1960, as Deputy Commandant-General from 1961 to 1965, and as Commandant-General, i.e. head of the SA Defence Force, from 1965 to 1972.

In 1966 the Commandant-General was appointed Secretary for Defence over and above his appointment as head of the SA Defence Force.

During May, 1967, the dual title of Commandant-General and Secretary for Defence was dispensed with by the elimination of the title "Secretary for Defence". The Commandant- General, as permanent head of the Department of Defence as well as of the South African Defence Force filled the post of Commandant-General, SADF, which post embraced the functions signified by the former dual title. At the same time the rank of Commandant-General, instituted in September, 1956, was changed to that of General.[5]

Awards and Decorations

In 1960 he was awarded the Star of South Africa (SSA) for exceptional services.[4]


He died on 26 July 2007 aged 95 in 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.[4]

He is survived by six children, sixteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren.[4]

Among his influential brothers are Dr Louis W Hiemstra who made his in mark in the field of journalism and Judge Victor Hiemstra of Pretoria.[4]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Who's Who of Souther Africa 1959. Ken Donaldson (Pty) Ltd.. 1959. pp. 290. 
  3. [1]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Britz, Elretha (27 July 2007). "Oud-weermaghoof RC Hiemstra sterf" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. Media24.,,3-975_2154901,00.html. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 
  5. STRATFORD, DO (December 1968). "The Office of Secretary for Defence". Johannesburg: South African Military History Society. SA. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Pieter Grobbelaar
Chief of the General Staff of the South African Defence Force
Succeeded by
Hugo Biermann

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