WWII: SA troops to fight in Europe


J.C. Smuts

Wednesday, 27 January 1943

South African prime minister, General J.C. Smuts, asked parliament's approval to send troops to Europe, contrary to his promise in 1939 that SA troops would only fight in Africa. The Sixth South African Armoured Division, the most powerful and best equipped of the South African divisions, commanded by Major-General W.H. Evered Poole, entered the war in Italy in April, 1943. For the rest of the war the Sixth Division served as part of the British Eighth Army and the American Fifth Army. From time to time the South African troops were involved in heavy fighting. They were the first to enter Rome and cleaned up the last pockets of German resistance in the Po valley at the end of the war. 753 South Africans were killed in Italy.

Click here to read more about South Africa and the Second World War

• Liebenberg, B.J. & Spies, S.B. (eds) (1993). South Africa in the 20th Century, Pretoria: Van Schaik Academic, p. 288.
• Muller, C.F.J. (ed)(1981). Five Hundred years: a history of South Africa; 3rd rev. ed., Pretoria: Academica, p. 444.

Last updated : 26-Jan-2015

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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