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Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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Fact file: Prince Alfred’s Guard

Established as the Port Elizabeth Volunteer Rifle Corps on September 19, 1856, the title Prince Alfred’s Guard (PAG) was unofficially assumed in 1860 when the regiment escorted Queen Victoria’s second son.

Official recognition came in 1874, and the name Prince Alfred’s Volunteer Guard was adopted. The regiment’s first action came during the 9th Frontier War on December 2, 1877 at Umzintzani. Afterwards, a Xhosa shield with crossed assegais and with the word Umzintzani became the unit collar badge. The subsequent battle honour was the first awarded a South African reserve unit. In 1880 a PAVG contingent served in the Basutoland campaign. A highlight was the claim to have made a bayonet charge at Lerotholi’s kraal on October 22, the first made by a British volunteer regiment. A second contingent arrived in February 1881 and also saw action. In 1897 a contingent served in the Langberg (Bechuanaland) campaign where they made another bayonet charge, and in 1899 the regiment, now 691 strong, was mobilised for the Anglo South African War.

The regiment at first guarded the railway between De Aar and Stormberg but in early 1900 about two companies were converted to mounted infantry and served in the Free State and Transvaal with the 6th and 11th Divisions. Between 1913 and 1934 the unit was renamed the 3rd Infantry, Active Citizen Force. World War One saw it mobilised on August 22, 19141 for garrison duty in the Cape peninsula. It was demobilised the next July. Nearly 90% then volunteered for overseas service.

During World War Two, the PAG served as a “link” battalion for 2 SA Brigade, sending drafts, many of whom served with the Field Force Battalion. At last, in February 1943, it was announced that the PAG would become a tank regiment in 6 SA Armoured Division’s 11 Armoured Brigade. The unit landed at Taranto, Italy, on April 20, 1944, equipped with Sherman Mk V’s and Crusaders, initially tasked to help relieve the bridgehead at Anzio. Later the unit took part in the advance on Florence.

During the 1970s and 1980s the unit, now equipped with Eland armoured cars, took part in counterinsurgency operations throughout South Africa and also in Namibia and Angola. In 1984 the unit converted to the Olifant main battle tank and was allocated to 9 SA Division. The unit saw service in the then-Transvaal before and during the nonracial 1994 elections. The unit was then remustered as mechanised, then motorised, and, now, as air assault infantry. By 2004, the unit was 90% black.

Current role: Air assault infantry.
Current base: Port Elizabeth
Battle honours:
  • Umzintzani
Motto: Honi soit qui mal y pense2 (Evil be to him who evil thinks).

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