Orange Free State Command

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Orange Free State Command
Bloemfontein, South Africa
Orange Free State Command.svg
TypeCommand (military formation)
Site history

Orange Free State Command was a command of the South African Army, active from c. 1933 to c. 1999. Its headquarters was at Bloemfontein, seemingly for a period at the Tempe airfield, later to become the Tempe Military Base.



Union Defence Force Military Districts[edit]

The command was originally Military District No. 4, formed in 1926. In 1933–1934 it became Orange Free State Command, and then may have become Central Command around 1939.The Officers commanding the new Commands were usually Brigadiers all units in those areas fell under them as far as training, housing, administration , discipline and counter insurgency was concerned.

Dan Pienaar served as officer commanding from 04 January 1935 to January 1937, before being transferred to take command of the Roberts' Heights and Transvaal Command at Voortrekkerhoogte which he commanded from 17 October 1938 to May 1940.[1]

On 3 September 1939 the command included the 4th Infantry Brigade (including Regiment President Steyn, RLW, Regiment de Wet, and 4 Field Company SAEC, a pioneer battalion, and an artillery regiment, the Orange Free State Field Artillery (O.V.S. Veld Artillerie in Afrikaans).[2] The OVSVA may have later become the Orange Free State Artillery, and later, in turn, 6 Field Regiment South African Artillery.[3]

SADF era Free State Command insignia

In 1959 the Command was renamed back to Orange Free State Command. Later Brig Pieter Grobbelaar commanded. In April 1978 44 Parachute Brigade was formed within its command boundaries and Brigadier M. J. du Plessis, OC OFS Command, took over as the brigade commander.


In 1984 the command was reported to include:[4]

SADF Orange Free State Command Support Structure

Around 1991 44 Parachute Brigade was subordinated to OFS Command. McGill Alexander writes that: "… The status of being an independent formation consequently disappeared, and from being directly under command of Chief of the Army [44 Parachute Brigade] fell into the position of having three bosses: the Officer Commanding Rapid Deployment Force for conventional operations and exercises, Director of Operations at Army HQ for routine and unscheduled deployments inside the country and the Officer Commanding OFS Command for everything else."[5]:71

Brigadier Reginald Otto served as officer commanding OFS Command, and later became Chief of the South African Army.

On 7 October 1999, the acting General Officer Commanding OFS Command, Brigadier General Hans Heinze, denied the existence of racial tensions at Tempe Military Base.[6]

Groups and Commando Units[edit]

SADF era Free State Command Commando Structure

Group 24 (Kroonstad)[edit]

Group 25 (Bethlehem)[edit]

Group 26[edit]

Group 34 (Welkom)[edit]

Group 35 (Bloemfontein)[edit]

Group 36 (Ladybrand)[edit]


Leadership of Orange Free State Command
From Commanding Officers To
4 January 1935 Maj Gen Dan Pienaar CB DSO & two bars January 1937
1988? Brigadier Reginald Otto 1992[7]
1992 Brigadier André Bestbier 1995[8]
? Brigadier Willie Meyer 1988?[9]
1995 Brigadier Mos Grobler 14 October 2020[10]
c. 1960 Brigadier Pieter Grobbelaar 14 October 2020
14 October 2020 Brigadier M. J. du Plessis c. 1978
From Command Sgts Major To

Further reading[edit]

  • Tylden, Major G (1954). The armed forces of South Africa. Johannesburg: Africana Museum.


  1. ^ "South African Army Officers 1939-1945". Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  2. ^ Niehorster, Leo. "Orange Free State Command". Archived from the original on 2014-12-04.
  3. ^ Evans, Nigel F. (14 June 2014). "Field Artillery Regiments of the South African Artillery in World War 2". Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  4. ^, seemingly citing Keegan, John (1979). World Armies. Hants, United Kingdom: Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 9780333172360.
  5. ^ McGill Alexander, Brig Gen (2003). "South African Airborne Operations". Scientia Militaria. 31 (1).
  6. ^ "Claims of Racism at Tempe Denied". Independent Online/SAPA. 7 October 1999. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2015-05-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2015-05-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^
  10. ^