The initial impetus to establish some form of volunteer military force in Port Elizabeth arose due to the perpetual threat posed by the warring Xhosa tribes.
To augment the British forces stationed in the Cape, especially in times of crisis, the British established volunteer military units throughout the Cape Colony. In the beginning they were typically of short duration to meet a specific threat posed to the colonists but later these temporary units would be replaced with units of a more permanent nature.
This blog will cover all such volunteer forces and units until the first disbandment of Prince Alfred Guards in 1860.
Main picture: February 1835 – Arrival of Harries’ Troop from Palos Kraal with WM Harries in the centre
Up until 1942, Prince Alfred’s Guards had always been an infantry unit. This was to change after the Battle of Alamein when it was converted into an armoured unit forming part of the 6th Armoured Division. It was at this juncture that Lt. Arnold (Coley) Colenbrander was posted into this Port Elizabeth unit as a tank commander. This blog covers the miraculous escape by Coley when his tank, an M4 Sherman, was destroyed by a German 75mm anti-tank gun outside Celleno in northern Italy, killing three of his crew.
Main picture: Coley’s Sherman after the battle at Cellano on 10th June 1944. Coley was in the turret when the shell struck the tank
Little did the members of the Prince Alfred’s Guard realise but the Bechuanaland Campaign was to be last of the little colonial wars in which the Guard were destined to take part. After the Transkei and Basutoland campaigns, this would be the third “outing” during which the unit would be tested. In total, the unit would be away on duty for six months.
Main picture: Parade for the unveiling of the memorials in St. Mary’s Church on 20th September 1896.