The Aim of the Association is to bring together serving and former armour soldiers, as well as interested persons and parties, in order to promote camaraderie, cohesion and comradeship among them, to maintain the armour heritage and traditions and to facilitate the rendering of mutual support among these members.
The South African Armour Association (the “Association”) celebrates its constitution and inauguration on 30 April; the foundations for the Association having being laid on this date in 1993 by a group of Members of the SA Armoured Corps under the Chairmanship of the late Lt Gen Jack Dutton.
Gen Dutton who was elected as the first National President of the Association at its inauguration, was also destined to become its first Crew Commander, an appointment honouring his contributions to both the Corps and the Association during his career and thereafter. The Constitution provided for two National Vice Presidents and a Secretary and these positions were, notably, to be filled by the late Brig (later Brig Gen) Philip Schalkwyk, the late WO1 Jan Holliday and the late Col Thijs Eagar, respectively.
The principal Aim of the Association is to provide the forum and opportunities during which all serving and retired Members of the Corps and the SA Army Armour Formation (the “Formation”) can meet at regular intervals at a convivial venue in order to recount their experiences and adventures of the past and to ponder upon the future of themselves and all like minded persons and parties. This need is being fulfilled through informal functions and “get togethers” at pre-determined and appropriate times and venues.
The Association also has the responsibility to promote communication between, and to provide relevant information relating to military veterans’ affairs to, the Members.
Probably the most important Objective that was formulated at the inception of the Association was to identify, research, record and promote the history of South Africa’s Armour Heritage, Traditions and Culture. In order to satisfy this Objective, the National Executive Council (“NEC”) of the Association embarked on an ambitious project, which soon became known as Project Armour Heritage. The Project was launched on 1 Sep 08 with the task of writing a book, to be called “The Black Beret - The Story of South Africa’s Armour”, to serve this intent.
The Armour Heritage Plenary Committee (the “Committee”), appointed at the launch of the Project, was Chaired by the late Brig Gen Philip Schalkwyk while the Chief Researcher was the late Brig Gen Andy Anderson. The Committee, under the current Chairmanship of Lt Col Heinrich Janzen (Ret), has continued with the initiatives set in motion by Gen Schalkwyk and a tremendous amount of work has been done, to date, with the help and collaboration of various contributing authors, notably Maj Willem P. Steenkamp. Volume One of an envisaged four volume series was launched at the School of Armour on the 19th of October 2016 as part of the greater commemoration of the 70th birthday of the SAAC, under the title of “The Black Beret, The History of South Africa’s Armoured Forces”. Volume Two was launched in October 2017 and in 2020 good progress is being made with Volume Three.
The Project, by its broader definition, requires that the Association liaises closely with the SA Army Armour Formation and all its units in its endeavours to achieve the Objectives that have been set. In this case funding for the Project will include financial support for the compilation, editing, layout, printing and publishing of The Book, on the one hand, and funding for the many on-going expansion and maintenance programmes confronting the SA Armour Museum at the School of Armour in Bloemfontein.
The Association prides itself on being an active and vibrant member of the veterans’ organisation fraternity in South Africa but, needless to say, the growth in its membership numbers is dormant and may indeed start to decline in the near future. This is a cause of serious concern to the NEC.
In the current era, the interests of military veterans, such as those of retired Corps and Formation members, which are being represented by the Association on higher forums, are subject to recent legislation. By virtue of a recent Act of Parliament and in terms of the Military Veterans’ Act, 2011 (Act No 18 of 2011), certain socio-economic benefits may accrue to military veterans as they are defined in the Act. The Association accepts the responsibility of keeping its Members abreast of the facts relating to these issues.