Chief Defence Reserves’ Final Engagement

Maj Gen Andersen’s Shots from the Commanding Heights.

Brigadier General Kamffer in the No 3 position fires the first round under the command of General Andersen. Photograph by Captain Jacques de Vries – Directorate SA Army Reserve
Chief Defence Reserves – Major General R.C. Andersen was Guest of Honour at a farewell ceremony held at the State Artillery Regiment (formerly Transvaalse Staatsartillerie) Green Magazine (Groen Magazyn) in Pretoria, on the morning of Tuesday 25 May 2021. This was to recognise Maj Gen Andersen upon his retirement at the end of the month, for his contributions to the Reserves. These contributions include the introduction of the Updated Reserve Force Service System (URFSS) in 2018, lobbying with captains of business and defence related industries and society groups to support the Reserves, co-founding of the SANDF Education Trust with Chief South African National Defence Force (SANDF), General S.Z. Shoke, and support to the Reserves’ participation in Project KOBA-TLALA.
The farewell ceremony was executed between Defence Reserves Division and SA Army Artillery Formation with the Main Functionary at the event, Chief of Staff of the SA National Defence Force, Lieutenant General L. Yam in attendance. As a Gunner through and through, the outgoing Chief Defence Reserves commenced the Farewell Ceremony with the firing of a State Artillery Regiment GV1 25-pounder ceremonial gun supported by his handpicked gun crew.
Outgoing Chief Defence Reserves, Major General R.C. Andersen during his farewell ceremony. Photograph by Captain Jacques de Vries – Directorate SA Army Reserve

In an occasion filled with Artillery and Gunners’ symbolism, the Code of Conduct for Uniformed members of the South African National Defence Force was read out by Artillery Mobilisation Regiment Potchefstroom’s Chief Personnel Clerk Warrant Officer Class 2 E.E. Erasmus before the Office of the Chaplain General’s Senior Staff Officer Reserves, Colonel (Reverend) M.P.K. Masemola conducted the Scripture reading and prayer, drawing from 2 Timothy 4: 7-8, emphasising the verse “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” Thanking Major General Andersen, he prayed that “… his glittering example can therefore continue to guide this organisation for decades to come.”

As Programme Director, Colonel Khasapane, concluded an impassioned impromptu farewell to the outgoing Chief Defence Reserves in the form of fixed format message sequence, as follows – “Redeployment orders, Paragraph Alpha to Foxtrot… General Andersen… Paragraph Alpha: Golf 9 Romeo Alpha… Bravo: Home… Charlie: 31 1615 Bravo May 2021… Delta: Your observation zone. Your left boundary – Family. You may add to the left boundary – Sasfin. Your right boundary – Gunners’ Association and the Gunners in general. Echo: Now occasional rest is allowed. Foxtrot: Please take note that no ceasefire orders have been given to you. Therefore, you remain in action, General. Thank you, Sir.”
The Master Gunner badge, affixed to Major General R.C. Andersen’s uniform. Photograph by Captain Jacques de Vries – Directorate SA Army Reserve

The Chief of Staff of the South African Army Artillery Formation, Colonel A.S. de Jager, talked straight “… to express the South African Army Artillery Formation’s deepest thanks, for your excellent service to the guns and the Gunners throughout your career.” He went on to say that “As Gunners, we will continue to support you General, and to follow your lead and example that you set for us.” With the window of opportunity available at this farewell event, Colonel de Jager shared with the guests the manner in which the South African Artillery recognised outstanding service and duty through different forms of recognition, most notably the Master Gunner award. He explained that the South African Artillery Corps Council, still under the chair of the late Brigadier General K. Makina, had considered the citation which was written for Major General Andersen to be awarded the Master Gunner award. “Without argument, General, the Corps Council has awarded you with the Master Gunner award for your contributions made to the Artillery throughout your career, and have complied with all the requirements that are set to be awarded the honour of Master Gunner.” This badge was duly pinned onto Major General Andersen’s uniform for all to see.

To her outgoing superior, Director Defence Reserves, Brigadier General Z. Niyabo-Mana stressed “… the passion with which you have supported the Reserves throughout your career has definitely rubbed off on us. Trust and believe that we will take on the baton and continue where you left off to unconditionally support the Reserves.” Before Chief Defence Reserves was to step up to the podium, she shared in parting with guests the value of the contribution by Major General Andersen that “formed us into military leaders that the organisation will enormously benefit from. With those words, General Andersen, to you and your family… thank you very much Sir.”
Taking his turn to bid farewell to the Artillery fraternity and Reserves before his retirement, of things that stood out in Major General Andersen’s civil-military career over the last fifty-five years, he harked back to the farewell dinner in the Castle in Cape Town hosted by the Defence Reserves Division in honour of the outgoing Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Shoke. He reminded General Shoke at that event that “… Mark Twain said, that there are two important days in your life – The day you are born, and the day you realise why.” Of such events, Major General Andersen mentioned three such occasions – “The day I met my wife Wendy, I knew that we would get married. The day I joined Ernst & Young, I knew I would become the senior partner. And the day I joined the Transvaal Horse Artillery, now the Sandfontein Artillery Regiment, that I would be the Officer Commanding. There was never any doubt in my mind. I have had three simultaneous careers… business, military and veterans. Each of them has been very rewarding.” Contributing to the lot of the Reserves, he illuminated on “The day I commanded the Transvaal Horse Artillery, and then became its Honorary Colonel; the day I became the General of the Gunners, and the day I became Chief Defence Reserves.”
With relation to the Defence Reserves, he thanked the late Brigadier General Brian Burmeister, Brigadier General Quinton Painter, and Brigadier General Debbie Molefe for the long working relationship, and thanked with appreciation Brigadier General Niyabo-Mana for her energy, enthusiasm and commitment. Special mention was made of Defence Reserves Division’s Senior Staff Officer – Projects, Colonel Elsa van Wyk, “… who is not meant to be my Personal Staff Officer but she has gravitated into it. Without her support and my civilian PA Sharon Moyes, I wouldn’t have achieved many things.”
Chief Defence Reserves thanked the Chief of Staff of the South African National Defence Force and fellow soldiers for the privilege to serve them and serve with them. Before gathering his papers and returning to his seat, Major General Andersen thanked all present who were involved in his “lucky and fortunate career… I couldn’t have done it on my own.” To all of those there on the day, and those not able to attend, he said – “I salute you, I thank you, I wish you well, and please stay in touch. Thank you very much.”
Following this farewell address, Major General Andersen commenced with the exchange of gifts and tokens of appreciation period, by handing over Defence Reserves Division Symbol of Office, from himself to Director Defence Reserves, to “…please secure it and hand it over to my successor when he or she is appointed.”
Colonel de Jager stepped forth, and supported by the South African Army Artillery Formation’s Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer J. Niemand, presented a deactivated and silvered 155mm round to General Andersen. This was followed by bestowing on the retiring Gunner his ceremonial rammer, and then the three blank 25-pounder brass cartridge cases expended during his Firing of Last Rounds. On the handing over of the last case, Colonel de Jager indicated that “I will always in your retirement find it difficult to call you ‘Gunner’ Andersen, but nevertheless, I will take pride to greet you, ‘Good morning, Gunner Andersen!'” Gifts from the Defence Reserves Division were handed over by Brig Gen Niyabo-Mana to Major General Andersen and his wife, with the flowers accepted in her stead by their daughter, Ms J. Tucker.
Last, but not least, Chief Defence Reserves called upon the former Director Defence Reserves, Brigadier General Molefe to express his disappointment that the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented them having a separate function, dinner or parade for her. Of her and their service together, he said – “We worked together, and you were my right-hand person. You made a tremendous contribution and made my life a lot easier. This is the least we can give you on behalf of the Reserves. Thank you not only for what you did for me, but far more importantly what you did for the Reserves and Reserve members. Please accept these tokens of appreciation for your service.”
From left to right – Defence Reserves Division’s Senior Staff Officer Projects, Colonel M.E. van Wyk; National Chairperson of the Gunners’ Association South Africa, Gunner N. Wiid; Director Project KOBA-TLALA, Brigadier H.J.G. General Kamffer; Gunner D. Hoole; Regimental Sergeant Major of Sandfontein Artillery Regiment, Master Warrant Officer P.D.A. Engelbrecht as Chief Defence Reserves, Major General R.C. Andersen’s hand-picked gun crew after the firing of last rounds.
Photograph by Captain Jacques de Vries – Directorate SA Army Reserve

The Programme Director, Colonel Khasapane thanked all for their contributions on the day, and assured all that in his assessment the day did not disappoint. He summed up the undercurrent felt by all at the event, that “Indeed it has been a great honour and privilege for many of us to have served with you, under your command and leadership, and to have learned what we have learned out of the example of your life.” The Reserves wish Major General, and Gunner Andersen, everything of the best in his future endeavours… climbing to new commanding heights.

Article and Photographs by Captain Jacques de Vries | Directorate SA Army Reserve