Established on April 1, 1934, named for Marthinus Theunis Steyn, the last President of the Orange Free State Republic and raised in the Bloemfontein area. Mobilised in June 1940 and reinforced with drafts from Regiments De Wet and Louw Wepener as well as the OVS Veld Artillerie before being deployed to Egypt a year later as the Machine Gun Battalion of 1 SA Division.
The regiment was roughed up at Sidi Rezegh in November 1941, where the wikipedia notes its 3rd Company went into action with 4 officers, 117 other ranks and 25 “natives” as black South African labourers were then called, of whom only 1 officer, 44 other ranks and 9 “natives” survived.1 In December the unit came under command of 5 SA Brigade. Drafts from 3 Transvaal Scottish, also worse for wear from Sidi Rezegh, arrived in March 1942 and later that year the unit was back in action at El Alamein. The regiment returned home in January 1943 and in August merged with Regiment Botha for service in Italy.
The unit was later converted to an armoured car regiment. In 1975 the regiment converted from armoured cars to tanks and eventually formed part of 82 Mechanized Brigade. “What was later to become Regiment Vrystaat was formed in the same year as the second battalion of Regiment President Steyn. The regiment saw service during the South African Border War (as infantry). Its first active duty as a tank unit was when two squadrons took part in Operation Packer in March 1988.”2
Current Role: Tank regiment.
Current base: Bloemfontein
- East Africa 1940-1
- Western Desert 1941-3
- Sidi Rezegh
- Alamein Defence
- El Alamein
- Motto: Floreat (Blossom).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regiment_President_Steyn, accessed June 3, 2006.