What happened to the Union Defence Force after 1948?

1948 was a defining moment in South Africa’s history. The advent of National Party rule on the 26th May 1948 and the defeat of the United Party under the venerable leader, Jan Smuts, who had served with distinction with the Boer forces in the Anglo Boer war, would open a veritable Pandora’s Box of ill-considered measures such as the segregation of the Union into tribes.

Most notable was the effect on the Union Defence Force which had fought with great distinction against the Nazi forces arrayed against the Allied nations. What they did to this once brave and proud force in the name of Afrikaner Nationalism was a far cry from what one expects of nation building.

Main picture: Frans Christiaan Erasmus, National Party politician and Minister of Defence from June 1948 to 1959, who was at the forefront of efforts to remove English speakers members of the Union Defence Force

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