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The Black Beret Volume 1 – Steenkamp, Willem

The Black Beret Volume 1 – Steenkamp, Willem

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Volume 1 of “The Black Beret” starts with the early history of South Africa and ends with the invasion of Madagascar by the South African Forces during WWII.

This volume covers topics such as how armour came to the battlefield, the use of horses vs armoured cars in German South-West Africa in 1915, the first steps to mechanisation, the birth of the Tank Corps, and the deployment into East Africa through Abyssinia to Addis Abba during the early years of WWII.

We next experience the reverses and victories of the desert campaign with the 4th Armoured Car Company amongst others, fighting alongside the Desert Rats, Operation Crusader, the disaster at Tobruk, through the Gazala gallop and on to the victory at El Alamein. We meet the newly reconstituted SA Armoured Corps training at Khatadba in Egypt for deployment in the Italian campaign with the famous South African 6th Armoured Division, and we ride with the armour element that takes part in the invasion of Madagascar.

The development of the various marks of South African armoured reconnaissance cars are touched upon but will be discussed in more detail in a later volume. This is an important and overlooked story, one told by Willem Steenkamp in a rich and unique style, and drawing on a significant number of sources, ably supported by many photographs and maps.

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