SHORT HISTORY OF THE AIR DEFENCE ARTILLERY GROUP IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN AIRFORCE

250 Air Defence Artillery Group was formed on 1 December 1973. Initial training was undertaken at Air Defense School (AFB Waterkloof) where a Cactus Wing was established. Initially a French team from the company Thomson CSF provided support and training. By January 1985 such training was amalgamated at Air Space Control School (AFB Waterkloof).

Continuation training was done at 250 ADAG Pienaarsrivier. The unit moved to Pienaarsrivier (now Ditholo), north of Pretoria in 1977. Because of its remoteness and primitive beginnings, the base was better known as “Die Plaas” to many of the SAAF personnel that served there through the years.   4 Air Depot at Snake Valley was responsible for the servicing of the ADAG equipment (CACTUS & HILDA). Most CACTUS and HILDA equipment would remain at 4AD and only be moved to Pienaarsrivier for training and exercises.  An annual live weapon and missile shoot known as TAPPIT was held at St Lucia (Natal north coast) between 1974 and 1990. The exercise usually spanned two weeks and was seen as the proof of the pudding and the culmination of the year’s training.  It should be noted that a huge part of the group personnel was made up of the conscription National Servicemen, that served with the unit for the better part of two years and could later be eligible to return as Citizen Force members for “camps” and re-training. By the time National Service was done away with in the early 1990’s 250 ADAG were already disbanded and its remains i.e. 120 Squadron consisted entirely of Regular Force members.

-250 ADAG consisted of 120, 121, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129 Squadrons, which operated CACTUS, HILDA and ZU-23 systems.

Maj G.H.J.S. van Rooyen - 1 June 1974

Maj A.F. Morkel - 21 Oct 1977

Cmdt H.C. Geyer - 1 March 1980

Cmdt J.J. van Heerden - 1 Jan 1982

Col W.A. Roots - 5 Aug 1985

Col J.J. van Heerden - 12 Jan 1989

Cmdt H. Lehman - 1 January 1993 – 1 April 1993

OC’S 120 Squadron

   

Lt C. Cambell

1974

Lt G. Swanepoel

1975

Lt D.E. Marais

1976

Capt M.S. Brazzoli

1979

Capt P.J. Joubert

1980

Capt F.T. Botha

1981

Capt H.J. Harris

1984

Capt C.E.E. Gerber

1986

Capt H. van Eeden

1988

Capt A.B. Louw

1989

Capt S. Fryer

1991

Maj G.S. Pelser

1996

Lt Col A. Robinson

1999

Captain Leon Steyn, Historian, Air Force Museum