Fact file: Buffalo Volunteer Rifles


An East London corps raised on December 20, 1883 as the Kaffrarian Rifles, a reference to the colonial name for the Border region, British Kaffraria. The name changed to the Buffalo Volunteer Rifles in 1999 to rid the regiment of an offensive name and to emphasise the volunteer status of Reservists.

The name is similar to that of the KR’s parent corps, the Buffalo Rifle Volunteers of 1876, which was disbanded after the Frontier War of 1880. In 1897 the regiment provided a detachment from King Williams Town including eight medical staff for the Langberg (Bechuanaland, now Botswana) campaign. By 1899 two-thirds of D Squadron, of the (Bechuanaland) Protectorate Regiment were from the BVR (or KR as it was at the time) and served throughout the Siege of Mafikeng. The BVR was mobilised for the Anglo South African War in October 1899. Twenty-six officers and 723 other ranks reported for duty, the unit including a machine gun detachment, signallers, cyclists and a mounted infantry (MI) company. While deployed at Queenstown, the unit was converted to MI, the unit now consisting of six squadrons, the MG detachment, signallers and cyclists. A detachment was sent to Port St Johns to relieve the Cape Mounted Rifles there. The BVR formed part of the Colonial Division and was Wepener during a siege there.

During the German South West African campaign the regiment served with the northern force under Prime Minister General Louis Botha. During the 1939-45 war, the BVR was part of 4 SA Brigade in North Africa and was captured with 2 SA Division at Tobruk in 1942.

The BVR also served in the Border War, fighting in Namibia, Angola and Zambia.

Current role: Motorised infantry.

Current base: East London

Battle honours:

  • Gaika-Gcaleka 1877

  • Bechuanaland 1897

  • South Africa 1899-1902

  • South-West Africa 1914-5

  • Western Desert 1941-3

  • Bardia (Due to almost the complete regiment being captured at Tobruk in June 1942, no further World War II battle honours were awarded.)

  • South-West Africa/Zambia 1979

  • South-West Africa/Angola 1975-1976

  • South-West Africa/Angola 1976-1989

The regiment claims four more battle honours, which have not been acknowledged:

  • Transkei 1879

  • Transkei 1880-1

  • Basutoland 1880-1

  • Wepener (during the Second Boer War)

Motto: Nunc animis (Now with courage/Now without fear).