Rahul Sharma (Editor)

101 Air Supply Unit SAOSC

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Active  October 1963 – present
Branch  South African Army
Garrison/HQ  Lyttelton, Gauteng
Country  South Africa
Type  Air supply
101 Air Supply Unit SAOSC

Part of  South African Ordnance Service Corps

The 101 Air Supply Unit is a parachute unit of the South African Ordnance Services Corps. Formed in 1963, it has supported the 44 Parachute Brigade, now the 44 Parachute Regiment, since its establishment. It appears to be based at Lyttelton, Gauteng.


The primary role of the Ordnance Services Corps is

The OSC also delivers specialised services to the army, which includes computer services, air supply and nature conservation.


In the summer of 1962, three candidates were drafted as part of a plan that eventually determined air supply capability in the SADF. The three were Tom Moodie, P.A. Goosen, and C. van Heerden. They reported for national service on 3 January, 1963, as members of the 101 Air Supply Platoon (101 ASP) of the Active Citizen Force.

The three draftees were assigned to the then ADK Afrikaans: Special Service Corps. Tom Moodie was selected to attend a candidate officer's course which began in April, at the Military Services School, and was commissioned as an assistant field cornet (AFC) (2nd lieutenant) on his successful completion of that course. He served as quartermaster at 16 K&T Company for the last three months of his training.

P.A. Goosen and C. van Heerden became NCOs of the 101 Air Supply Platoon and served out their national service as corporals in the same company, the 16 K&T, located at the Technical Service's Base at Lyttelton, Pretoria. Also in April 1963, a fourth member, serviceman L. Knobel, was drafted to the same unit.

National service drafts at that time occurred every three months; in the July intake three members were added to the unit and another two in September. The next year twelve members were added, so that by the end of 1964 the unit's strength stood at 21 members.

Towards the middle of 1967 the first draft of recruits for 102 Air Supply Platoon began.

Establishing 101 Air Supply Platoon

On 23 October 1963, Captain Jan Klopper sent AFC Moodie to Northern Transvaal Command, where he was informed by Cmdt. C. Spiller that a permanent commissioned post had been created by the SADF for his position, and that it had been awarded to him. (At that time a commission was temporary, ending with the nine-month national service period).

At this meeting AFC Moodie was informed that he was being appointed acting officer in command of 101 ASP; three personnel staff files were handed to him, his own and those of corporals Van Heerden and Goosen.

On his appointment, AFC Moodie was 19 years old, making him one of the youngest commanders in the history of the SADF at that time. On 23 April 1964, his appointment was made permanent, and he continued to hold it for 29 years until 1993, making him one of the longest incumbent unit OCs in the SADF.

In December 1964, the first unit camp was held at Diensvakskool Afrikaans: service subject school with 16 members from 101 ASP.

Other permanent force personnel, skilled to a degree in air supply training, were Cmdt. Rasie van Vuuren, WO1 H Freso, Lt. T Greef, Cmdt. Jacall, Sgt. J Grobler and Cmdt. V Hatting.

Initially training took place under the auspices of the "Corps – School Services", and later "KDK School". After 44 Parachute Brigade relocated from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, training was undertaken on a more intensive basis by the air supply wing of the brigade.

Practical air supply in the SADF has been ongoing for over 28 years, from the full spectrum of training, methods and methodology used in the Second World War (ejection platform, SEAK-pack on C47) to the most modern LHPLUS system applied on the C130.

Until the beginning of Operation Savannah, in 1975, the unit had participated in scheduled training camps where members were called up and trained over fixed periods. The last time the unit was called up with all members being present was the first 21 days of February 1975. Up until this period the unit had concluded 10 camps. Since February 1975, the unit has been deployed in a full-time operational capacity and training and training camps have taken place only on an ad hoc basis where certain elements of the unit were involved.

Operational utilization

The unit became operational beginning with Operation Savannah in November 1975. Initially, members were stationed at Air Force Base Waterkloof and AF bases for three-month periods to load and off-load C130s and C160s.

From the early 1980s, the emphasis shifted towards more technically valuable contributions to combat situations, such as the technique of tying heavy wooden platforms with steel cables and using modern pallets and the "LAPES" (low altitude platform extraction systems), which are still used. With a reduction in military operations, the unit was placed on an ad hoc basis, with activation for military exercises.

The 101 ASP is an important link in the supply chain to provision fighting units in the field and works closely with maintenance units. While neither a conventional supply and replenishment unit nor a typical maintenance unit, it does provide supplies and equipment by air transport on short notice.

Establishment of 101 Air Supply Company

By 1970 the 101 Air Supply Platoon had participated in six training camps while the 102 Air Supply Platoon from its inception in June 1967, had not, due to a decision to first bring the 101 to full strength.

At that time the 101 was stationed in Pretoria whilst 102 was at Port Elizabeth. The commander of 102 Air Supply Platoon was Lt. J. Morris.

During 1971, a joint training camp attended by both platoons took place at Lenz Military Base in Johannesburg, AFC Moodie assumed command on this occasion. In May 1972, the 101 and 102 ASP platoons were amalgamated as the 101 Air Supply Company with AFC Moodie commanding. As of this writing it retains this format, though a submission was made to elevate its status to the 101 Air Supply Unit; the matter is pending.


Since the inception of the unit in 1963, the unit has been under the command of various headquarters:

  • Oct 1963 – Jan 1974: Northern Transvaal Command
  • Feb 1974 – Jul 1978: 1 South African Corps
  • Aug 1978 – Mar 1979: 44 Parachute Brigade
  • Apr 1979 – Sep 1983: Army Headquarters
  • Oct 1983 – Jan 1988: South African Army Logistics Command
  • Feb 1988 – Nov 1996: 44 Parachute Brigade
  • Dec 1996 – Apr 2008: South African Army Logistics Command
  • Apr 2008 – date: 44 Parachute Brigade
  • Training

    The unit was established with the aim of strengthening the conventional capability of the SADF. The unit is divided into four air supply platoons and one transport platoon with main responsibility and ability being air transport. Unit camps were mainly to train members of the unit in both air supply and air transport.

    Since 1964, WO1 Ben Viljoen has been the instructor and has established, offered, and coordinated training and practice. However, no one from the permanent force side showed interest, read and researched to the degree that WO1 Ben Viljoen did.

    This enthusiasm in air supply demonstrated by WO1 Ben Viljoen flourished under the encouragement of Brig A. Botes at HQ–level ensuring that the unit had its proper place, but also distribution within the SADF and rightfully deserved.

    Of all the air supply personnel in South Africa, 95% at some stage underwent training at the hands of WO1 Ben Viljoen and WO1 Hans Fresco.

    Current Dress Insignia

  • Qualification: Air Supply
  • Qualification: Air Supply Instructor
  • References

    101 Air Supply Unit SAOSC Wikipedia