Lieutenant Colonel DJ Laäs (from 1 April 1995)
Major Johan de Wet
Lieutenant Herman Posthumus
WO1 GP Barnard

Composition of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group

a. Alfa Company
i. OC: Major De Wet van Aswegen
ii. CSM: WO2 Swarts
b. Bravo Company
i. OC: Major Riaan Gray
ii. 2IC: Lieutenant Stoney Steenkamp
iii. CSM: WO2 Voel Moolman
Echo Squadron (Rooikat)
i. OC: Captain Veldtman
ii. 2IC: Captain Louis Nel
iii. SSM: WO2 Heila Heyns
Sierra Battery (G5)
i. OC: Major Koos Breytenbach
ii. 2IC: Captain Buks Botha
iii. BSM: WO2 Niemandt

Overview by the Commander

Battalion HQ mainly staffed by members of the Armour Corps

Due to inexplicable reasons the battalion headquarters was mainly staffed by members of the Armour Corps during 1995 and 1996, which inadvertently brought about a mindset change in the unit in terms of the way things was done.

The year was basically spent supplying forces to the training wing for course support. Part of the mindset change was convincing the battalion leader group that this was the ideal opportunity to train our own sub units as it was done with ammunition and fuel from the training wing and not out of the unit’s own budget.

Very high standard of training was achieved

During the unit’s own force preparation known as Ex Mobilitate, a lot of emphasis was placed on tactical mobility, movement, aggressiveness and utilisation of tactical terrain. Training standards achieved by this mindset change culminated in 61 Mechanised Battalion Group being granted a week’s leave during the RDF force preparation phase of the exercise, by the 7 SA Divisional Commander, Brig Koos Laubscher, as it was his opinion that the Battalion Group was of such a high standard of preparedness that it did not need any further training.

Regalia / Traditions

A lot of emphasis was also placed on establishing the old traditions of 61 Mech which started in the old SWA / Namibia era as a common denominator to enhance esprit de corps as well as individual pride in the members of the unit, it being a member of a very special unit.

Some of the most important aspects that were addressed were the following :

Unit/sub unit insignia:

The unit flash as well as subunit flashes were painted onto the vehicles. The old SWP was reinstated with the different vehicle names and sub units were given permission to wear old sub unit flashes like Bravo company’s skull on their yellow background.

Charlie company was a new addition to the unit and as such had no previous company insignia. The company was tasked to come forward with suggestions and they decided unanimously that they will accept the old Charlie squadron sign as their company sign and even keep it in the original armour colours as part of the new culture of traditions and history.

Unit history

During the Battalion Group morning parades important facts concerning the unit’s history were made known to all in an effort to teach every member the history of the unit.

The 61 Mech Battalion Group proficiency badge was also removed from members who were convicted on a summary trial on the Battalion Group parades in an effort to establish pride in the “messie”. Such members had to qualify all over again.

The deployment internally in the RSA was accepted as the operational requirement to qualify for the badge.

Stable belt

The unit was wearing the Army Battle School stable belt at the time. A concerted unit effort was launched to obtain the necessary approval and authority for an own belt for the unit. It was approved in the unit colours with 2 broad black loops, 2 yellow loops and 1 white narrow loop in the middle .The unit started wearing it in middle September 1995 on a special ceremonial parade where it was handed over.

Other traditions:

Other traditions were also reinstated such as a bivouac for children of unit members and for the first time it included the married troops of the unit.

A family evening was held once a month for the leader group of the unit with every sub unit getting a chance to act as hosts and providing a theme for the evening.

The main purpose of the evening was to give the Commanding Officer an opportunity to bring the wives up to speed on what was happening in the unit and get the wives involved in the unit.

The Dippenaar marathon, which in Omuthiya was run from the gate post on the white road to the tarred road and back, was also reinstated , albeit in a slightly changed format.

Unit lines

An effort was also made to upgrade the unit lines as the Army Battle School was known for its dust. A lot of grass was planted around the HQ, bird cages erected and it became the responsibility of the Anti Aircraft troop or so called “budgie gunners”.

An irrigation system was installed with the help of WO1 Scheepers, the FSM Army Battle School. Slabs for monuments were erected and monuments were strategically placed in the unit like for example , an Olifant tank and a G1 gun.

Highlight of 1995

The absolute highlight of 1995 was the fact that the unit gelled into a proud, dedicated, superbly skilled and well oiled fighting machine, where every member of the unit was proud to be a member of such an illustrious unit.


The unit was deployed over the Christmas period with a Tactical HQ and two companies to Group 10 in the Greater Durban area.

Commendations received by 61 Mech

61 Mech received a commendation from the Officer Commanding of Group 10 as well as a Chief of Army commendation certificate for its actions during this deployment.

The Tactical HQ and its forces returned to the Army Battle School at Lohatla on 22 January 1996 , after this successful deployment in Kwa-Zulu Natal.


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