Cape Town Rifles

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Cape Town Rifles "Dukes"
SANDF Cape Town Rifles emblem
SANDF Cape Town Rifles emblem
Founded28 November 1855; 164 years ago (1855-11-28)
Country South Africa
Branch South African Army
RoleMotorised infantry
SizeOne battalion
Part ofSouth African Infantry Formation
Army Conventional Reserve
Garrison/HQCape Town
Motto(s)Semper Eadem
Anniversaries28 November (Regimental Day)
Lt Col Francois Marais MMM, B Mil
Honorary ColonelColonel Les Masterson
Company level InsigniaSA Army Company Insignia.png
SA Motorised Infantry beret bar circa 1992SA motorised infantary beret bar.jpg
SA Motorised Infantry beret bar

The Cape Town Rifles (Chief Langalibalele Rifles (nicknamed Dukes) is an infantry regiment of the South African Army. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Army Reserve or United States Army National Guard unit.



The Regiment was founded on 28 November 1855, as the Cape Rifle Corps. It was the first volunteer unit in the Cape Colony.

Other names[edit]

It was also known as the "Cape Royal Rifles", and later as the "Cape Town Volunteer Rifles".

Association with Prince Alfred[edit]

On 30 September 1867, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh granted the CTVR the title "Duke of Edinburgh's Own", after it had formed a guard of honour for him during a visit to Cape Town. The nickname "the Dukes" appears to have come into use in the 1880s.


The Regiment's original purpose was home defence, to supplement the British Army garrison which was stationed in Cape Town. It initially consisted of two companies, but later grew to five, the fifth (formed in 1859) being a Scottish company. The Scottish company left the Regiment, and became a unit in its own right, in 1861, and disbanded in 1866. During the depression of the 1860s and early 1870s, the Regiment shrank to only one company, and was one of the few volunteer units to remain in existence

Early Campaigns[edit]

On the outbreak of the 9th Frontier War in 1877, the Regiment volunteered for active service, and fielded a small contingent which served in the Transkei from October 1877 to January 1878. Hundreds of volunteers joined the Regiment, and it was reorganised in April 1878, into six companies.

Another contingent served in the Transkei from February to May 1879, to take the place of a British garrison unit which had been re-deployed to Zululand because of the Anglo-Zulu War.

Half the Regiment served in the Basutoland Gun War in Basutoland (now Lesotho) from September 1880 to March 1881, and it was there that the Regiment suffered its first casualties.

The Regiment continued to grow after this period of campaigning, and a new Scottish company was formed in 1882. It transferred to the newly formed Cape Town Highlanders in July 1885. In 1891, the Dukes took over the Cape Town Irish Volunteer Rifles, and in 1894 the Regiment formed a mounted company.

From February to August 1897, the Dukes were on active service in Bechuanaland, as part of a government military operation to capture dissident Tswana leaders who had taken refuge in the Langberg mountains.

Anglo-Boer War[edit]

The Regiment played an active role in the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902). Initially, it was deployed to protect a long stretch of the railway line through the Western Cape. In May 1900, it was assigned to Lt Gen Sir Charles Warren's column, to recapture areas of Griqualand West from Boer and Cape Rebel forces. The Dukes' commanding officer, Lt Col William Spence, was killed in action during a Boer attack on the column's base on the farm Fabers Puts on 30 May 1900.

From June 1900 until the end of the war in May 1902, the Regiment was split up into small detachments, which manned outposts and blockhouses in the northern Cape.

A second battalion was formed in Cape Town in January 1901, and in October 1901 it became a separate unit and was renamed the Colonial Light Horse. It disbanded after the end of the war.

Citizen Force[edit]

Together with most colonial volunteer units, the Dukes were embodied in the Active Citizen Force of the new Union Defence Force on 1 July 1913. The word "volunteer" was removed from the title, which then became "2nd Infantry (Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles)". The numerical designation was dropped in 1932.

World War I[edit]

Like other CF units, the Dukes played a limited role in World War I, because the South African forces were restricted to operations in southern Africa. The Regiment was on garrison duty in Cape Town from October 1914 to January 1915, and was deployed in German South West Africa (now Namibia) from February to July 1915. It was used in a supporting role, and saw no action.

After the Dukes returned from GSWA, more than a hundred members volunteered for service in the new 1st SA Infantry Regiment, which served in Egypt and then on the Western Front in France. Some others volunteered for service in the British forces, and one "Duke", Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor, became a Royal Air Force pilot and finished the war as South Africa's most highly decorated serviceman ever.

World War II[edit]

The Dukes served again in World War II. As a unit of the 1st SA Infantry Brigade, the Regiment served in East Africa (Kenya, Somaliland and Ethiopia) from July 1940 to May 1941, and in North Africa (Egypt and Libya) from June 1941 to December 1942 as part of the 1st SA Infantry Division. The Dukes earned eleven battle honours in these two campaigns.

From February 1943 to March 1945, the Regiment was based in the Transvaal, in South Africa, as a tank training battalion. Being under-strength, it was temporarily amalgamated with the Rand Light Infantry. In March 1945, the DEOR/RLI amalgamated with the Transvaal Scottish, to form the "DSR" battalion for service in Italy. However, operations in Italy ended before the battalion was ready for deployment. It was used for peacekeeping and security duties in Italy until the end of 1945.


When South Africa became a republic on 31 May 1961, the Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles were renamed the "Cape Town Rifles". The official title was changed again, in October 1966, to "Cape Town Rifles (Dukes)". The Regiment was granted the Freedom of the City of Cape Town on 10 October 1967. National service, i.e. conscription of all medically fit White men, was introduced in 1968.

Border War[edit]

The Dukes were converted into a counter-insurgency (COIN) unit in 1974, and served several tours of duty in the Border War, i.e. South African operations against the People's Liberation Army of Namibia. The whole battalion served in Owambo in 1977, and a small contingent served there again in December 1978. Companies served in East Caprivi in 1979, in Kavango in 1980, and in Owambo in 1981 and 1983.

State of Emergency[edit]

The Dukes were deployed on internal security duties in various part of South Africa in 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1990, during the 1985-1990 State of Emergency, which was the government's response to the armed liberation struggle by the African National Congress and others.


Since 1994, the Regiment has been a volunteer unit again, and membership is now open to men and women of all races. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2005.

RSM Colin Drummond Smith, the oldest surviving member, with 73 years of service to the Dukes, died at age 93 on 2 August 2010.

Name change[edit]

In August 2019, this unit and 51 other Reserve Force units had their names changed to reflect the diversity of the current SANDF.[1]

Going forward this unit´s name would be the Chief Langalibalele Rifles.

The Regiment continues to serve both on external as well as internal deployments.[2]

Regimental Symbols[edit]

  • The regimental badge, worn since 1964, is an eight-pointed star, with a battlemented turret covering the top point. An anchor is superimposed on the turret. In the centre of the star is a stringed bugle horn, surrounded by a buckled strap inscribed "Semper Eadem".
  • The previous badge, dating from the 1880s, was the star of the Order of the Thistle, with a royal duke's coronet covering the top point, and the regiment's title around the thistle in the centre of the star.
  • The regimental helmet flash is pale gold with a pointed top, and a cherry red chevron across the centre. A hackle (plume) of cherry and gold feathers is worn behind it. The beret flash, worn behind the badge, is a diamond-shape divided horizontally into pale gold over cherry red.
  • The Cape Town Rifles are the oldest regiment of Cape Town's five traditional volunteer regiments: the Cape Field Artillery, the Cape Town Rifles (Dukes), the Cape Town Highlanders, the Cape Garrison Artillery and Regiment Westelike Provinsie.[3]

Previous Dress Insignia[edit]

SADF era Cape Town Rifles insignia


Battle honours[edit]


From Colonel-In-Chief To
1930 Major General the Earl of Athlone KG GCB GCMG GCVO DSO PC ADC(P) FRS 1957
From Honorary Colonel To
1935 Colonel Cecil James Sibbett JP 1967
1968 Colonel Neil Herman Hare ED 1989
1991 Colonel Helm Roos 1992
1993 Colonel Patrick Joseph O'Sullivan 2006
2007 Colonel Les Masterson Present
From Commanding Officer To
1855 Col. the Hon. William Hope 1858
1858 Col. John Thomas Eustace 1858
1862 Capt. Rice Daniel Jones 1872
1872 Capt. Francis Rennie 1874
1874 Capt. William Keal 1877
1877 Maj. Francis Gimber Goodliffe 1878
1878 Col. Zachary Stanley Bayly 1879
1879 Maj. Francis Gimber Goodliffe 1880
1880 Col. Archibald Graham Wavell 1881
1881 Maj. Francis Gimber Goodliffe 1882
1882 Maj. Henry Hamilton Jones 1884
1884 Col. Richard George Southey 1890
1890 Lt Col. William Alfred Spence VD 1900
1900 Brevet Col. John Lewis 1900
1900 Col. Henry Woodhead, CMH, VD 1914
1914 Lt Col. William Frederick Gregory VD 1921
1921 Lt Col. George Rose DSO VD 1925
1925 Lt Col. Charles Ernst Samuel Bull MC 1929
1929 Lt Col. Bertram Maynard Woodhead DSO VD 1933
1933 Lt Col. James Edward Harker VD 1933
1934 Lt Col. John Hewitt VD 1935
1935 Lt Col. Colin Graham Botha VD 1937
1937 Lt Col. John Hewitt VD 1938
1938 Lt Col. George Thomas Senescall DSO 1941
1941 Lt Col. Harold Lewis Silberbauer MC 1941
1941 Lt Col. George Thomas Senescall DSO 1942
1942 Lt Col. Johannes Mattheus De Beer 1942
1942 Maj. Leslie Lees 1942
1942 Maj. Alexander Georgeu 1942
1942 Lt Col. Sydney Burdett Gwillam MC 1943
1943 Lt Col. Pieter Gerhard Vincent dan der Byl MC 1944
1944 Maj. Neil Herman Hare ED 1945
1945 Lt Col. William Hedding DSR 1945
1945 Cmdt. Alexander Douglas Foxwell Sales MC 1953
1954 Cmdt. Colin Ray Titteron JCD 1955
1956 Cmdt. Donald Ivan Moodie SM JCD 1961
1961 Cmdt. Albert Joseph Bick JCD 1970
1971 Cmdt. Brian Donald Davison JCD 1973
1973 Cmdt. Albert Joseph Bick JCD 1974
1975 Cmdt. Leslie Clifford Masterson MMM, JCD 1981
1982 Cmdt. Manfred Albert Krecklenberg MMM, JCD 1988
1988 Lt Col. James Charles Anthony Gerstner 2001
2001 Lt Col. Ray Nesset MMM, JCD 9 February 2014
9 February 2014 Lt Col. Francois Marais MMM, B Mil June 2018
From Regimental Sergeants Major To
1878 RSM James Fergus McQuade 1902
1903 RSM John Edgar Pearson 1913
1913 RSM R. Bell 1915
1926 RSM J.A. Hallas 1926
1927 RSM C.J. Hunter 1929
1929 RSM W. Britton 1933
1933 RSM Lionel Higginbotham 1939
1939 RSM Douglas Saville Hoyle 1940
1940 RSM Christopher William Noel Gautier MC 1941
1941 RSM Charles Wilfred Gudgeon MC 1943
1943 RSM Louis Harry Nuns 1944
1944 RSM Dene Weitz Melvill DSR 1945
1946 RSM Ronald Andrews 1947
1947 RSM Colin Drummond Smith JCD 1964
1965 RSM Johannes Ignatius Jakobus du Toit MMM, JCD 1969
1970 RSM Roy Maxwell Kirsten PMM, MMM, JCD 1987
1987 RSM Colin Jon Faure 1996
1996 RSM Kevin Wayne Bey-Leveld 2000
2000 RSM John Henry Tuck 2005
2005 RSM Pedro Miguel Dias Lobo Present


  1. ^
  2. ^ Helfrich, Kim. "Reserves add value to Army operations". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 27 October 2014. Operation Corona deployment comprising a battalion of Western Cape Army Reserve Force units drawn from the Cape Town Rifles and the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment.
  3. ^ Englebrecht, Leon (17 June 2010). "Fact file: Cape Town Rifles (Dukes)". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 26 October 2014.


  • McKenzie, A.G. (1957). The Dukes. Regimental Trust.
  • Orpen, Neil (1985). The Dukes 1855-1984. Regimental Trust.
  • Anon (1989). Cape Town Rifles Dukes (Booklet).
  • Dorrington, John (1989). Semper Eadem - The Cape Town Rifles (Dukes). Regimental Trust.