South African Artillery – Corps Identifier

Extremely rare colour image of a South African artillery crew in North Africa during World War 2. Here South African gunners are seen in action with their 25 pounder in the desert.
In full colour it is easy to note the Artillery ‘flash’ on the side of their pith helmets – this practice later continued with the use of the beret ‘balkie’ (bar) worn on the beret by the Army to signify corps. The origin of these pith helmet flashes goes back to the Boer War.

Left – Royal Artillery Pith helmet – British Army – Boer War era

Middle  – Artillery Pith helmet cloth “flash” of South African Forces in WW2

Right – SADF Artillery School beret during the 1980’s – note the “balkie” or the Beret bar which carries on with the tradition of corps identification on head gear.

Unfortunately the tradition of “beret bars” (balkies) has been discontinued in The South African National Defence Force (across all Corps and not just Artillery) – which is a little sad as a fine and uniquely South African military tradition is no longer followed