(During the war, the army was led by General Smuts, who had rejoined the army from his position as Minister of Defence on the outbreak of the war.) South Africans also saw action with the Cape Corps in Palestine.
More than 146,000 whites, 83,000 blacks and 2,500 people of mixed race ("Coloureds") and Asians served in South African military units during the war, including 43,000 in German South-West Africa and 30,000 on the Western Front.
With the declaration of war in September 1939, the South African Army numbered only 5,353 regulars, with an additional 14,631 men of the Active Citizen Force (ACF) which gave peace time training to volunteers and in time of war would form the main body of the army.
Pre-war plans did not anticipate that the army would fight outside southern Africa and it was trained and equipped only for bush warfare.
It is now becoming increasingly involved in peacekeeping efforts in southern Africa, often as part of wider African Union operations.
Dorning says that '.SAMR was in reality a military constabulary similar to the Cape Mounted Riflemen, tasked primarily with police work in their respective geographical areas.' In 19, the new 23,400-member Citizen Force was called on to suppress several industrial strikes on the Witwatersrand. The German troops stationed there eventually surrendered to the South African forces in July 1915.
In accordance with the 1912 Defence Act, the Active Citizen Force was established under Brig. (In 1920 South Africa received a League of Nations mandate to govern the former German colony and to prepare it for independence within a few years.) Later, an infantry brigade and various other supporting units were shipped to France in order to fight on the Western Front as the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force.
Through this system, young healthy members are being inducted into the regular and reserve forces every year.
After the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, General Jan Smuts, the Union's first Minister of Defence, placed a high priority on creating a unified military out of the separate armies of the union's four provinces. 13) of 1912 established a Union Defence Force (UDF) that included a Permanent Force (or standing army) of career soldiers, an Active Citizen Force of temporary conscripts and volunteers as well as a Cadet organisation.