SA Irish Regiment Theas Afican na hÉireann Reisimint

Regimental Traditions, Symbols & Commanders

The Regimental March- Killaloe

Listen to the Regimental March or downloadin MP3 format (Courtesy of the SA Irish Pipes and Drums)

Regimental Symbols 

  • The regimental cap badge consists of the Irish harp and the regimental motto. A green hackle is worn behind the regimental cap badge.
  • An infantry green lanyard is worn on the left shoulder, knotted between the slide and whistle in respect of the dead at Sidi Rezegh. For this reason, SA Irish Regiment is the only unit in the SANDF not required to blouse the lanyard directly into the breast pocket.
  • The Regiment wear black boots (as opposed to brown) in recognition of the near-destruction of the regiment in World War II.
  • The original (1914) motto of the Regiment was "Quis separabit?" ("Who will separate us?"), but during World War II it changed to "Faugh-a-Ballagh" ("Clear the way"), which it has remained to the present day.
  • The Regimental march was "The County Down Militia" but was later changed to "Killaloe". During the playing of  Killaloe, members of the unit will loudly shout “OI” at the two moments of silence during the tune.
  • When the Regiment was re-formed in 1939 a Pipe Band was raised, which remained with the it until 1949, after which it became the South African Irish Regimental Association Pipe Band. The band wears the Saffron kilt, whilst the infantry members wear green trews when in ceremonial dress.
  • The Regiment became affiliated with the London Irish Rifles (Now part of the London Regiment) in 1949. The Regiment is also affiliated with The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment)
  • The Freedom of the City has been conferred upon the South African Irish Regiment by both the Johannesburg and Barberton Municipalities.
  • Officers of the Regiment carry a blackthorn walking stick when not armed with sword or rifle on duty.
  • NCO’s are authorised to carry a swagger stick whilst not on operational or ceremonial duties.


1914 – 1915                1939 – 1946                1964 to Present

Regimental cap badges

Battle Honours

A battle honour is a military tradition practiced in the Commonwealth countries of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa; and is an official acknowledgement rewarded to military units for their achievements in specific wars or operations of a military campaign.

A battle honour is granted through at the prerogative of the head of state, and is granted only after lengthy historical review of a particular conflict. It is comparable to a unit citation in other national traditions.

A battle honour may be granted to infantry/cavalry regiments or battalions, but with the exception of Navy ships and Air Force squadrons, they are rarely granted to sub-units such as companies, platoons and sections in the army. Battle honours are usually presented in the form of a name of a country, a region or a city where the regiment's distinguished act took place, together with the year when it occurred.

Battle honours are listed in chronological order, either in a single list, or in multiple even numbers of columns, reading left to right, and top to bottom. On drums, the honours are listed on scrolls, usually with the cap badge central, and other unit devices present (such as a representation of a unit distinction or motto.) It is often the case that battle honours not carried on the colours (limited by space and design) will be emblazoned on drum major's baldric.

It remains a tradition that whenever military personnel meet a colour or guidon, it must be saluted. This is not only because it is an object which represents the authority of the State, but also because the colours contain a regiment's battle honours, and thus represent the regiment's history and its dead. Saluting a colour or guidon is thus a pivotal act in retaining an awareness of regimental history and traditions--key in the functioning of the regimental system. It remains common for army instructors to ensure that their recruits have memorized and are able to recite all of their regiment's battle honours. Such methods are meant to bring the new soldier into the regimental ethos and sub-cultural by means of imprinting shared history.

The Regimental Colour

No unit values any of its ossessions more than it does its Colour - the symbol of its history and tradition - the record of its fiercest battles and bloodiest moments.

The Regiment received its Colours from the State President, Mr JJ Fouche, on 23 November 1968 together with the following Battle honours:

South West African 1914-15
East Africa 1940-41
Western Desert 1941-43
Sidi Rezegh

In the old days the colour was carried into battle and indicated the position of the commander on the battlefield. Whilst the colour flew, the fight continued and consequently it became the rallying point and often the place where the fiercest fuighting occurred, as the men defended their Colour to the bitter end.

The veneration accorded the Colour stems from those early times and, although the Colour is no longer carried into battle, it is accorded the same respect by all who see it unfurled.

The Colour of the South African Irish Regiment comprises a field of rifle green, common to all South African Infantry units, with fringes, cords and tassles of black and silver. The black colour is complementary to the rifle green, these being the infantry colours, whilst the silver is complementary to the metal badges and buttons worn by the unit.

The centre piece of the Colour is the harp emblem which forms the unit badge surmounting the regimental motto "Faugh a Ballagh" which is loosely, but best, translated from Gaelic as "Clear the Way".

The central emblem and motto are framed by an open wreath which symbolises the Irish origin and South African entity of the Regiment and depicts, with clarity, the name of the Unit which is unique in having the words "South African" as part thereof.

Below the wreath are emblazoned the battle of Sidi Rezegh, at which the unit was decimated. Survivors were posted to other units and the South African Irish did not have the opportunity of participating in other battles of the Second World War.

The Springbok, which surmounts the pikestaff, is the South African Infanrty Corps symbol. Below it, affixed to the pikestaff, is a miniature artillery badge which commemorates the 14 years which the unit served as the 22 Field Regiment in the immediate post war period.

Thus is the first Regimental Colour which was presented to the unit, and it was purchased from contributions made by the present and past serving members, as a tribute to the past members who actively participated in gaining for the unit the Battle Honours of which we are so proud. In particular it is a small token of the great respect and appreciation we owe to those who fell, whilst members of this unit, in the service of our country.

By Lt Col. Godfrey Giles, JCD (Ret.)



Honorary Colonels
Col. (Mrs) Louis Botha (1914-1915)
Col. T.W. Cullinan (1945-1953)
Col. W.J. Busschau (1966-1976)
Col. C.A. Twomey, SM, JCD (1977-1978)
Col. B. Molefe (2009 - 2017)

Commanding Officers
Lt-Col. F.H. Brennan, VD (1914-1915)
Lt-Col. J.A.M. Moreland, MC (1939-1940)
Lt-Col. D.I. Somerset, MC (1940)
Lt-Col. J.F.K. Dobbs, MC (1940-1942)
Lt-Col. C. McN. Cochran, DSO, MC (1942)
Lt-Col. F.H.G. Cochran, OBE, ED (1945-1951)
Lt-Col. J. Geber, DSO (1951-1956)
Cmdt. C.A. Twomey, SM, JCD (1956-1964)
Cmdt. G. van Kerckhoven, SM, JCD (1965-1969)
Cmdt. E.M. Kristal, JCD (1970-1972)
Maj. (T/Cmdt) C.I. Steyn (1972-1975)
Cmdt. S.W.J. Kotze (1975)
Cmdt. J.C. Bosch (1975-1980)
Cmdt. J.H. Swanepoel (1980-1982)
Cmdt. S.H. Moir (1982-1986)
Cmdt. A.J. Karcz (1986-1988)
Cmdt R. Joubert (1988-1991)
Lt Col. G. Rothschild (1991-1999)
Lt Col. J.P. Jonker (1999-2005)
Lt Col. T. Pounder (2005)
Lt Col. M.A. Bennett, RD (2005-2015)
Lt Col. W.W. Kinghorn, MMM, DWD (2015 to present)

Regimental Sergeant Majors
WO1. J. Murray, DCM (1914-1915)
WO1. R. Bowker (1939-1940)
WO1. E. Owen (1940)
WO1. A.H. Brehem (1940-1941)
WO1. C.E. Whillier MM, EM (1946-1955)
WO1. A. du Preez (1955-1960)
WO1. J. Bartman (1960-1961)
WO1. R. Parks (1961-1962)
WO1. P. Halroyd (1962-1964)
WO1. F. Ferreira (1964-1966)
WO1. J.L. Fitzhenry (1967-1977)
WO1. A.L. Day (1977- 1985)
WO1. R.L. Olsen, JCD (1985 - 2007)
MWO. G.S. Moseki (2007 - Present)

Decorations and Awards to the SA Irish Regiment

World War I

Military Cross
Montgomery H. QM/Capt
Taylor R. McG. Capt
Woon E.W. Capt

Distinguished Conduct Medal
659 Murray J. RSM

World War II

Distinguished Service Order
87602 Cochran C. McN. Maj

Military Cross
87602 Cochran C. Maj

British Empire Medal
88646 Mulder A.H. L/Cpl SA Irish .
88567 Ritchie J.A. Pte SA Irish .

Distinguished Conduct Medal
11231 Thayer H.H. Pte

Military Medal
88805 Brand J.B. Pte
82214 Brislin J.J. Pte
87641 Burton R.V. Pte
88792 Buys L.J. Pte
87642 Callaghan D.J. Pte
87990 Kirk J.R. Cpl
16481 Lubbe J.H.B. Sgt
88344 Macaulay J.I.E. Cpl
89049 Muller F. Pte
88941 Shaw J.C. Pte
88320 West R.M. Pte
89022 Winterbach B. Pte

Mess Traditions

  • Officer’s/WO’s entering the mess only release the button on the Sam Brown cross belt to show they are off duty when in Dress no 1.
  • After playing at any formal Regimental function, the Pipe Major, Drum Major (if on parade) and the duty piper are rewarded with a Piper’s dram, a shot glass of neat Tullamore Dew.
  • In the Officer’s mess the hidden corner of the bar counter is regarded as the “Subbies lines” where 2nd Lts and Candidate Officers are required to shelter themselves from public gaze as well as to prevent potential embarrassment of the Regiment by the children.
  • New officers joining the mess and officers being promoted are required to toast the Regiment while consuming a pint glass containing an alcoholic cocktail mixed by the Mess NCO. The cocktail must be finished in one draught or penalties ensue as decided by the PMC. In the specific instance of promotions, the recipient officer will drink his toast whilst standing on a small mess table.
  • NCO’s on promotion are required to drink a pint of beer at one draught whilst being held upside down by their brother NCO’s. As with the officers, any inability to achieve success will incur the wrath of the senior member followed by an appropriate penalty.
  • In the WO’s and SNCO’s mess, the RSM’s chair bears a plaque indicating who the owner of the chair is, and is also sealed by a lanyard. Any miscreant sitting in the RSM’s chair is immediately found to be out of order in the mess, and must purchase a round of drinks for all present.
  • Members entering SAIR officers’ mess are required to come to attention, stamping in the right foot at the door of the mess. This is required in order to pay respects to Father Patsy Nolan, whose portrait hangs at the entrance of the mess; as well as to alert the PMC that people are about to enter the mess.
  • Officers are required to buy their own personalised glass bottomed or ceramic beer mug, emblazoned with their name and the unit crest, which is to be kept for their use in the mess. Upon leaving the Regiment, the departing officer is required to donate his mug to the mess, at which point it is displayed in the mess lounge. Should the officer die either whilst on strength with the unit, or subsequently, his mug is ceremonially broken by the PMC, followed by a Regimental toast to the deceased officer (note that this tradition has been in abeyance since the early 1990’s, but many new members are requesting that it be resurrected).
  • SAIR is not traditionally a drinking unit: therefore the officers’ mess traditionally does not open before 21:00 on a duty night except in instances where external visitors are to be entertained, or a specific Regimental celebration is to be held.

Regimental Drinks:

  • Whiskey - Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey. Initially introduced to the officers mess in 1957. Officers (and NCO’s) are required to drink this “on the rocks” only.
  • Brandy – French only. A requirement introduced in 2005 by the Adjutant ostensibly in recognition of the Wild Geese tradition of Irish Regiments serving the King of France, but, more pertinently to stop the proliferation of lower class brandies into the officer’s mess. The current OC has permitted a private stock of KWV.
  • Old Brown sherry (OB’s): Used by the leader group to toast the Regiment prior to forming up for ceremonial parades. This tradition involves forming the parade leader group into a circle around the RSM. The RSM opens a bottle of OB’s,  crushes the cap, and takes a mouthful of sherry before passing the bottle to the senior officer on parade, who takes a mouthful of sherry before passing the bottle to his left. The bottle is passed around the circle until empty, or should the circle be too big, or the leader group too thirsty for one bottle, another bottle is opened by the RSM and the circuit resumed from where it ended.

By Lt. D.W. Chambers


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  • Remember: You can now listen to the Regimental March by visiting our Traditions page.
  • Remember: The annual Sidi Rezegh parade is scheduled for the 25th November 2018.