Cape Garrison Artillery

Cape Garrison Artillery

The Cape Garrison Artillery (CGA) is an artillery regiment of the South African Army. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Territorial Army or United States Army National Guard unit. It is part of the South African Army Artillery Formation.


econd Anglo-Boer War

The Regiment was formed in 1859, as the "Volunteer Sappers and Miners", and was later called the "Cape Engineers" or "Cape Town Volunteer Engineers". It disbanded around 1866.

A new unit, called the "Cape Town Volunteer Engineers" was formed in 1879. It served in the Transkei campaign in 1880 and 1881. In 1889, it added a coast artillery company, and the title was later changed to "Garrison Artillery & Engineer Volunteer Corps". Engineering was discontinued in 1896, and the title was then changed to "Cape Garrison Artillery".

The commanding officer of the unit at that time was Major le Vicomte de Montfort. The Regiment had an authorised strength of 320 men and was trained by the Royal Garrison Artillery. The badge of the CGA was that of the Cape of Good Hope and its motto was "Spes Bona" (Good Hope).

In 1898 the CGA was changed to a partially-paid unit and thus lost its volunteer status. It was mobilized for participation in the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899. Initially the Regiment had 373 members, but the figure increased to 560 (with some recruits arriving from overseas) by February 1900.

During 1900 the CGA was mainly used on the main western railway line of Cape Colony, as well as west of that line, assisting in garrisoning important posts. A small number of CGA members were also under the command of Sir C Warren in Griqualand West. Parts of the Regiment als joined Kitchener’s Horse.

Elements of the CGA were also involved in the attack on Jacobsdal on 25 October 1900.

During 1901 detachments of the Regiment were often stationed alongside the Cape Town Highlanders as well as other local troops in the west of Cape Colony and other areas, up to the German South West Africa border.

Other actions that elements of the CHA were involved in during the war were: Brugspruit (October 1900), Wonderfontein (February 1901), Naauwpoort (February 1901), Mafeking (November 1901), Omkyk (January 1902), Okiep (April 1902) and Daspoort near Pretoria (May 1902).

On 30 June 1902 the unit was demobilised; it continued as a part-time volunteer unit.

World War I

In 1912 the Coast Garrison Force of the Union Defence Force was divided into two Corps, the "South African Garrison Artillery" (SAGA) and the "South African Coast Defence Corps".

SAGA was organised into two Divisions. 1 Division was the Cape Garrison Artillery while 2 Division was converted from A and B Batteries of the Natal Field Artillery and renamed the "Durban Garrison Artillery". CGA manned batteries at Sea Point, Fort Wynyard and the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town as well as at "Noah's Ark" and other batteries at Simonstown.

In 1915, when the decision was made to invade German South West Africa, a "Heavy Artillery Brigade" was formed in order to accompany the S outh African Expeditionary Force. In addition to the elements of the Royal Marine Artillery stationed in South Africa, companies of the Cape and Durban Garrison Artilleries were also included.

On the successful conclusion of the South West Campaign, these troops were available for service elsewhere. The Heavy Artillery Brigade subsequently provided the "7lst/75th Siege Batteries" and the "50th S.A. Brigade, Garrison Artillery" for service in France. These units served with great distinction and were later commemorated by the South African Heavy Artillery memorial below the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

In 1921 the South African Permanent Garrison Artillery was established, with the CGA (consisting of 18 officers and 346 men) being one of its constituent parts.

World War II

The approach of World War II led to the expansion of the South African military and in 1934 the Cape Garrison Artillery became 1 and 2 Batteries of the "Cape Artillery Brigade" (sometimes called the "Cape Peninsula Artillery Brigade"); the Cape Field Artillery was also attached to the Brigade for a while. This brigade was equipped with Heavy Coast Batteries, two medium Batteries with 60-pounders and 6-inch howitzers. It also operated "No.1 Armoured Train".

Later, with the aid of the part-time "Coast Defence Corps" that was specially created to assist the Permanent Force units, many troops of the CGA were released for service in North Africa and Italy. The Kriegsmarine did not attack any South African port during the war. The only instance of a shot being fired in anger was when the Portuguese frigate "Alfonse d'Albuquerque" did not respond to signals when it passed a shore station. However, one round brought her to and she was identified.

In 1949 the Coast Garrison Artillery became part of the Active Citizen Force.

In 1951, the Cape Garrison Artillery batteries were renamed "coast regiments". Together with the anti-aircraft units, they were transferred to the newly formed South African Corps of Marines, which was directed by the Navy. When the SACM disbanded in 1955, the anti-aircraft units were transferred to the Army, and the coast regiments were taken over by the Navy. The three CGA units were renamed SAS "Ubique", SAS "Diaz", and SAS "Malgas", and were disbanded in 1958.

The CGA's name was later given to an anti-aircraft regiment, which had been formed in July 1942 as part of the Cape Town air defences.

Current Status

The CGA still currently (as of 2006) exists, as an Anti-Aircraft Regiment. During a 2005 revival initiative, the unit now has become active in key initiatives such as Force Preparation, Force Support and Force Training, some of the current main focus areas of the South African National Defence Force. The unit is housed in the historic and unsung jewel of Cape Town, Fort Wynyard. As from December 2005, the OC of the unit, Major Vidius Archer, started an unofficial initiative to save the Fort from further decay. 24 Hour security was put in place, the gardens of the Fort resurrected, and the whole Fort was cleaned. During a recent visit (April 2006), we were pleasantly surprised to see the turn around taking place at the Fort. The Cape Garrison Artillery must be complimented and commended for doing something to save the Fort. Currently buildings and facilities are being rehabilitated and restored by the unit without any funding. The next phase, Major Archer has been known to say, will be to restore the guns in the gun park at the Fort. The state of the guns is shocking and has been a concern to most visitors over the last 10 years. As it is seen as the unofficial museum of Air and Coastal Defence equipment, we hope that the OC will be successful in achieving this.

Regimental Symbols

* The first regimental motto was "Spes Bona" (Good Hope), but currently (as of 2006) Today it is "Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt" (Where Right and Glory Lead).

Battle Honours

* South West Africa 1915 The Battle Honour is currently housed in the Regiment's Officers' Mess in The Castle of Good Hope. During a small official ceremony, it was manually carried from the Cape Town Library by the Regimental Association Chairman, Lt Col Marius van der Westhuizen and the Officer Commanding, Major Vidius Archer.


* The Armed Forces of South Africa 1659 – 1954. Tylden, G, Major. City of Johannesburg Africana Museum. Frank Connock Publication No.2. Facsimile 1982.

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