8 South African Infantry Battalion
|8 South African Infantry Battalion (8 SAI)|
|Active||October 1973 - present|
|Branch||South African Army|
|Part of||South African Infantry Corps|
|Garrison/HQ||Upington Northern Cape Province|
|Motto||Perservate et Superate (Conquer through perseverance)|
|Company level Insignia|
|SA Mechanised Infantry beret bar circa 1992|
8 South African Infantry Battalion is a mechanized infantry unit of the South African Army. It is equipped with Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) used for fast transport and combat. The battalion uses Ratel IFVs all-wheel drive vehicles (6×6), for mobility across rough ground. Support weapons for mechanized infantry are also provided with motorized transport, or are built directly into IFVs, in order to keep pace with the IFVs in combat. The battalion was raised at Upington in the Northern Cape in 1973, and assigned to the Infantry Formation.
8 SAI continues to train for conventional warfare and forms part of the annual brigade-level Lohatla Army Battle School exercise. Training includes IFV-mounted and dismounted fire-and-move drills, and integration with Engineers, Armour, Artillery and Air Force elements.
- 1 History
- 2 8 SAI Mechanised Fleet early 90's
- 3 Ordnance
- 4 Insignia
- 5 Unit Song
- 6 Battle Honours
- 7 Casualties
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
The unit was established at Upington in the Northern Cape in October 1973 and received its first batch of national service trainees the next January. They could, however, not cope with the Gordonia heat and the unit afterwards received trainees in July.
The Border War/Angolan Bush War
Between 1979 and 1989, 8 SAI participated in the Border War. Its contingent was known as 63 Mechanised Battalion Group, and for much of this time it fell under 60 Brigade (South Africa). 8 SAI contributed troops to the following operations:
- Operation Savannah (1975),
- Operation Reindeer (1979), attack on Cassinga, Southern Angola,
- Operation Sceptic (1980), destroy control and logistic structures at Chifufua, Southern Angola,
- Operation Carrot (1981), counter insurgency warfare in the farming districts of Tsumeb, Otavi and Grootfontein, in Sector 30, Namibia,
- Operation Protea (1981), destroy SWAPO command and training center at Xangongo and logistic bases at Xangongo and Ongiva. Southern Angola
- Operation Daisy (1981), attack on SWAPO center at Chitequeta, Southern Angola
- Operation Yahoo (1982), mobile skirmishes countering SWAPO infiltration in SWA in the Ogandjere tribal area, north of the Etosha pans and the Bakenkop farm. 55 insurgents killed and 16 apprehended. 1 Ratel lost by concentrated RPG fire.
- Operation Meebos (1982), attack SWAPO bases identified by reconnaissance teams, Southern Angola
- Operation Phoenix (1983), counter offensive to SWAPO infiltration into Owamboland, Namibia, 309 SWAPO killed.
- Operation Dolfyn (1983), attack PLAN bases and headquarters around the Angolan town of Cuvelai
- Operation Askari (1983/4), disrupt logistical support and command & control capabilities of PLAN to suppress an incursion planned for Jan 1984.
- Operation Pronkertjie (1985),
- Operation Viper (1985),
- Operation Benzine (1986),
- Operation Moduler (1987), Lead up to the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale
- Operation Hooper (1988), Part of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale
Attack on Calueque Dam
The Cubans opened a second front on 27 June 1988 against the South Africans and launched a ground offensive in the direction of Calueque Dam in Southern Angola. The area to the north of the dam became the scene of fighting. MiG-23 aircraft attacked the facilities, bombing a bridge, sluice gates, a pump, a generator, and a pipeline to Ovamboland in three waves. 12 soldiers from 8 SAI lost their lives in this engagement.
- Operation Excite/Hilti (1988), Draw Cubans out of Techipa, Southern Angola and ambush, preventing an advance to Calueque and SWA/Namibian border.
- Operation Linger (1988) and
- Operation Merlyn (1989). Prevent the incursion of PLAN (SWAPO) insurgents into South West Africa/Namibia in contravention of ceasefire effected 1 April 1989.
8 SAI, as part of 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion Group and 63 Mech, was part of the last contingent of South African troops to withdraw from Namibia at independence in 1990 (Operation Agree) in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435 handing over responsibility to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG).
South Africa Internal Operations
From 1990, the unit deployed internally in South Africa. Its main tasks at this time included counter insurgency in urban and rural areas.
Which brigades/Command was the unit assigned to 1990 – 1999
In 2006, 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion Group was disbanded and most of its members were transferred to 8 SAI.
8 SAI's main training area, at Riemvasmaak, north of Upington, was returned to a civilian community. 8 SAI therefore uses Lohatla Army Battle School near Kathu (Postmasburg)as it main training area currently.
- Operation Curriculum, 2001-2009, 8 SAI companies were involved in peacekeeping operations for the African Union in Burundi
- Operation Mistral, 2003 8 SAI companies were involved in peacekeeping operations for the African Union in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Operation Cordite, 2006, 8 SAI companies were involved in peacekeeping operations for the African Union in the Darfur, Sudan
- Operation Triton in the Comores oversaw the African Union Mission deployed during the elections. This was strengthened by a company of 8 SAI to provide stability.
8 SAI Mechanised Fleet early 90's
Alpha or Attack Vehicles
1 Ratel 20 per section, 3 sections per platoon, 3 platoons per company. 1 Ratel command per platoon, 4 per company.
Charlie or Support Vehicles
Vehicle mounted weapons
8 SAI is equipped with Ratel 20 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Ratel 60 mm (2.4 in) Mortar Platform Vehicles, Ratel Command Vehicles with mounted 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns, Kwevoel 100 Armoured Trucks for IFV Recovery, field maintenance, fuel bunkers and water provision, Samil 50 and 100 logistics trucks, Samil 20 trucks for its organic field workshops, Caspar APCs for its forward artillery observation party, and Rinkhals Field Ambulance. 8 SAI has also used Buffel IFVs and Mambas at certain stages in its history. Ratel mounted weapons include the Denel Land Systems GI-2 20 mm (0.79 in) Quick Firing Canon (QFC) (Ratel mounted), 60 mm (2.4 in) breech-loading mortar (Ratel mounted), Browning M1919  Machine gun and the Browning M2 12.75 mm (0.502 in) Machine gun.
Lighter and personal weapons
8 SAI is equipped with the Vektor SS77 Squad Automatic Machine gun, Fabrique Nationale 7.62 mm (0.300 in) Light Machine gun, Vektor R4 5.56 mm (0.219 in) assault rifle, 40 mm (1.6 in) Multiple Grenade Launcher (MGL), Rocket Propelled grenade launcher (RPG-7), M26 Fragmentation grenade, M4 60 mm (2.4 in) patrol mortar (PATMOR), and the Denel 99 mm (3.9 in) FT5 rocket launcher.
Five versions are contemplated of which three are earmarked for mechanized Infantry Battalions such as 8 SAI:
- Command (mech infantry)
- Mortar (turreted 60mm breech loading long-range mortar) ( mech infantry)
- Missile (turreted Denel ZT3 Ingwe)
- Section (turreted 30mm cannon) (mech infantry)
- Fire Support (turreted 30mm cannon, but with more ammunition than the section vehicle)
Previous Dress Insignia
Current Dress Insignia
Ou Kalahari Wysie
Ver in die Noord-Kaapse duineveld waar gemsbokke nog baljaar,
Daar word 'n seun tot 'n vegter wat leer om sy land te bewaar
Selfs deur die snikhete somer en deur die winter kou,
Leer ons en werk ons en veg ons want ons land is ons hoogste trou.
Ver in die Noord-Kaapse duineveld weg van die stad se gewoel,
Daar leer die manne van 8 SAI te streef na die hoogste doel,
Onder die vry-bloue hemel en ongerepte natuur,
Toon ons ons ware karakter, wys ons ons krag en vuur.
- Southwest/Angola 1979-1989
- Mavinga II
- Mavinga III
- Cuito Cuanavale
During the South African Border War Period, 13 soldiers from 8 SAI are recorded as having died during operations or in combat. A further 9 are recorded as having died from other causes during the history of the unit. They are all listed on the unit's Roll of Honour.
Roll of Honour
- 1985: Anthony,P.H., Sgt :14
- 1998: Antonio,D., Rfn :36057
- 1982: Ashford,E.J., Rfn :25
- 1983: Barrington,R., Rfn :51
- 1981: Chapman,P.A., Cpl :2099[lower-alpha 1]
- 1983: Craemer,C.L.A., L-Cpl :263[lower-alpha 1]
- 1982: Drake,J.R.S., Rfn :368[lower-alpha 1]
- 1988: Els,A.S.J., Rfn :420[lower-alpha 1]
- 1983: Hanekom,P., Rfn :548[lower-alpha 1]
- 1988: Holder,J.R.G., L-Cpl :592[lower-alpha 1]
- 1988: Koorts,E.P., Cpl :726[lower-alpha 1]
- 1988: Lotriet,J.A., L-Cpl :827
- 1984: Louw,E.J., Maj :838
- 1988: Marx,P.R., Rfn :907[lower-alpha 1]
- 1981: Richards,J., L-Cpl :2064
- 1988: Rudman,T.B., Rfn :1239[lower-alpha 1]
- 1988: Scott,G., Tpr :1281[lower-alpha 1]
- 1988: Tucker,N., Lt :1437[lower-alpha 1]
- 1983: Van Jaarsveld,T., Rfn :1480[lower-alpha 1]
- 1983: Van Staden,E.J., Sgt :1507
- 1984: Verhoef,J.P., 2Lt :1591
- 1982: White,B.A., Rfn :1655[lower-alpha 1]
- 1985: Williams,E., Rfn :1666
- This person is marked on the Fort Klapperkop Memorial wall with an * as having died during operations or in combat.
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